Martina McBride: Bringing Old Soul to New Country

I just stumbled across one of my favorite interviews of all time that I did with the one & only Martina McBride for The Charger Bulletin. I had never shared it on here before, because the review directly correlated with a Connecticut show that Martina was doing in September of last year. That being said, I think her passion and inspiration are too great not too share – so you can read the article here!

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On Thursday I received a wake-up call from none other than Martina McBride herself. Needless to say it was hard to sleep Wednesday night knowing that such an iconic artist was going to be calling me in the morning to discuss her latest album, but I couldn’t have asked for a better conversation with such an inspirational woman.

Hailing from Kansas, McBride and her husband, John McBride, are now Nashville residents. The couple owns Blackbird Studios, which the University of New Haven is partnering with in spring 2015 for our music department’s newly developed study away program. McBride will also be coming to our neighborhood on Oct 11 for a leg of her new tour, performing at Waterbury’s Palace Theater.

McBride’s latest album, Everlasting, was released on April 8, and captures the essence and emotion of classic soul, making the tracks contemporary enough to attract new fans while maintaining the die-hards.

“I recorded an album a few years ago, Timeless, that showcased my own renditions of classic country songs, and I loved the feedback we got from that album,” McBride responded when I inquired about the inspiration behind her latest album. “When I have a chance to kind of recreate those classics I find it really fun, and I had the tour forEverlasting in mind from the moment we started working on the album, so I was really excited from the beginning.”

“I’ve never done a show like this before,” she confessed after I stated how unique I imagined the Everlasting tour to be. “We have a four-piece horn section, three background vocalists, and men in matching suits, familiar to the times of the songs I cover. I wanted the tour to be visually entertaining as well as very musical.”

McBride said that the tour will still cover a lot of her classic hits and said she has fans that have attended the show in more than one city because of the tour’s dynamic. The more she spoke about Everlasting on the road, the more I got the impression that everything with McBride is about the whole team. Without her background vocalists, musicians, management and everyone who had a part in this independent album release, she suggests she would not have had the amazing success that stemmed from the album. Part of that success is her fifteenth nomination for “CMA Female Vocalist of the Year.”

“I was just genuinely surprised,” McBride said regarding her nomination. “We’ve had no radio single from this independent release, and even though we’ve been very visible this year, it was really an honor that the industry recognized all of our hard work on this album.” I asked her to describe that feeling. “It never gets old,” she laughed.

Everlasting is a combination of some of the most influential soul tracks—from Motown to Muscle Shoals and everything in between, including classic hits like Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”

McBride manages to maintain Sam Cooke’s (“Bring It On Home to Me”) soulful elements while singing a duet with the talented Gavin Degraw. The album also features Kelly Clarkson on the classic “In the Basement,” originally recorded by Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto.

“The process of choosing and compiling songs that would fit together was definitely challenging,” McBride admitted. “I wanted everything to be cohesive, and then of course I had to choose songs that would fit my voice and feel authentic to what we were trying to create. It was definitely a treasure hunt.”

She’s right. This album is a compilation of jewels that were stored away for far too long and needed a good dusting before being shown to the world once again. This album will expose a new audience to these treasures and allow old fans to rekindle the moment they fell in love with the soulfulness of each song.

As if she wasn’t busy enough, McBride has recently earned her own show on Sirius XM’s Y2K Country. She described how this opportunity came about.

“When we released the album I was a guest DJ on the show, and they approached me shortly after to see if I would be interested in hosting a show of my own. It’s just another opportunity that makes me want to explore so many options—like possibly a show from the road or getting my background singers involved.”

McBride was getting ready to tape a show shortly after our phone call ended, so I asked her what the most challenging part of the taping process was. “Just the newness of it all and wanting each show to be perfect,” she replied. “I think that’s the biggest challenge for me. Finding stories to relate to each song that make the show interesting and fun.”

After speaking to McBride, I got the vibe that she is all about having fun and loving every minute of it. While it is evident by her immense success that hard work must be a huge priority, it is easy to see that she truly enjoys the time she invests in her albums, tours, radio shows, and life in general.

With her team attitude, passion for music, and optimistic mentality, Martina McBride has proven that she continues to break boundaries in the world of country music.

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