Top Country Vocalist Talks 25 Years Touring
Country music superstar and four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Martina McBride has been delighting fans with her songs about romance, survival and fearlessness for nearly three decades. 2017 marks twenty-five years of touring for the “Independence Day” vocalist, having first opened for Garth Brooks back in 1992. In celebration of this milestone, McBride is in the midst of CMT Next Women of Country Love Unleashed Tour with a stop March 9 at Times Square’s PlayStation Theater along with Lauren Alaina, Maggie Rose and Post Monroe.
Martina was one of 30 artists to perform on the “Forever Country” track for last year’s 50th CMA Awards and is currently featured on John Mellencamp’s new blues-rock track “Grandview.” McBride spoke with NYCMonthly.com about her favorite spots in the city, memories over the years playing Radio City, friendly advice and some of the female country newcomers she admires…
You of course recorded the popular “Independence Day.” So if you were to choose, do you prefer New Year’s or July 4th?
Probably New Year’s.
What season in New York is most appealing to you and why?
Fall because it’s my favorite time of year pretty much anywhere. The air starts to get crisp and the smell of the street vendors seems more intense. Everyone seems happy to have a reprieve from the heat. And the leaves in Central Park are stunning.
Not many people think of country music and Broadway in the same sentence, but what has been one show that really impressed you over the years and why?
I loved Waitress and I love Sara Bareilles.
Do you prefer the songwriting process on piano or guitar?
What moment in your career really made you pinch yourself to realize you made it?
I think the first time I won CMA Female Vocalist of the Year was a big moment.
Since “Independence Day” is considered an anthem, do you recall a favorite memory of performing this timeless song?
I think the first time I performed it, we performed it on the road before it was a single.
Do you have a top New York City performance that comes to mind from all your years of performing?
We got to do Radio City a few times and that was a lot of fun, playing that iconic venue.
What’s one country song you wish you recorded?
Faith Hill had a song called “It Matters To Me,” I would have recorded that one if I heard it first.
What’s one song that’s not considered country music that you wish you recorded?
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.
You come from Kansas originally, what is your favorite part of your home state or something that might be underrated about it?
I just miss being able to see the horizon and the sunrises and the sunsets there, there’s nothing in the way of the view. There are wheat fields and it’s flat, it’s really pretty.
What is your favorite thing to do in New York City when you visit?
I love to go to Little Italy and eat at Angelo’s on Mulberry.
What’s your favorite place in New York City?
It’s a tradition of ours to go to the Ferrara’s for gelato. We walk past Angelo’s to a stoop where we sit and eat our dessert. We’ve done this many times and made such great memories there.
Do you have a fan moment that stands out from all your years that happened to you in New York City?
What’s the Department of Homeland Security area where you get your passport? I got recognized there, my husband noticed.
What has been a guilty pleasure to watch, either a movie over and over or a TV series?
Well I like Blue Bloods actually, we have that on a lot.
Has your advice to young women changed for “This One’s For The Girls” since you recorded it?
Not really. I think the song still resonates and has great advice for each. I was thinking that a couple nights ago when I was performing it; it has great advice for each age group.
You have three daughters. What is the greatest advice you think you have given your children over the years?
I think to be a leader, not a follower. I told them that when they were younger.
“I’m Gonna Love You Through It” is about a cancer survivor and the people who support those suffering. I’d imagine this one has given a lot of people hope, has this song changed your life?
Yeah I mean, the most important thing, the thing that comes to mind is the people who have told me their stories, the people who have gotten hope and inspiration from the song. It’s a special one.
Regarding the same song, a few years back a little four-year-old in New York sang “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” to her mom who was battling cancer and the video went viral. You went on Ellen to surprise the family with a performance. How did you hold it together for this?
Well that was really, I don’t know, it was about her and her mom, I just wanted to shine the spotlight on her and her mom. I was just more focused on her, it was an emotional time for sure.
Is there a musician or industry professional who has given you advice that has stuck with you?
Actually the advice I just gave. Garth Brooks said to soak it all in and appreciate it is what you’re doing because it goes by fast.
There are many newcomers on the country scene lately, especially young women. Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, Cam, RaeLynn and more. What has impressed you most about this new generation of stars?
I feel like they are individual. They have their own individual sound and writing style. I mean Brandy Clark is such a great songwriter who has her own style and Maren Morris has her her own as well. I’m on tour with Lauren Alaina and to see her keep fighting, and now she’s got a great hit and she’s only 22. There’s not a lot of sound-alikes.
What’s a song past or present that no matter when you hear it, it always stops you in your tracks, makes you think of someone in your life or just resonates deep within you?
“You’ve Got A Friend”.
You have toured with so many other greats, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Reba, Lady Antebellum, Sara Evans and other acts that are not country artists like Gladys Knight, Sarah McLachlan, Jimmy Buffett. Is there a musician people might be surprised about that you recorded with or performed a duet with?
I recorded a song with Kid Rock and T.I. called “Care,” that was really a cool song. Six or seven years ago. It was really just a song about your place in the world and that you can’t change everything that’s wrong but you can do your share.
Is there a musical project you haven’t done yet that you are itching to do or try?
Yeah, I want to do a gospel record. An old-time acoustic, gospel record soon.
“Anyway” is another one of your really inspiring ballads that like many of your others is truly timeless. What’s something you think people should do right now in their lives no matter what’s going on?
I think people should go for their dreams and live in the moment more. There are a lot of distractions in our world, so to live in the present more.
25 years in the business touring. You also have a beautiful song “Blessed.” What do you feel most blessed about right now in your life and career?
I feel blessed that my kids are healthy and I’m just really enjoying this time in my life still getting to tour and make records, I love what I do.
Photo Credit: Joseph Llanes