The day after graduating from high school in 1985, McBride packed up her 1972 Dodge Dart and headed for the nearby city of Hutchinson. She was 17 and ready to rock. She joined a cover band, where she sang songs by Heart, Pat Benatar and other acts. The following year, she moved to the bigger city of Wichita to join a R&B-pop act, where she expanded her range by performing the material of singers like Whitney Houston, Madonna and Aretha Franklin.
These groups gave the young singer real world performing experiences. They also helped shape the work ethic that ultimately made her a Nashville hitmaker with 14 studio albums and more than 23 million units sold. McBride, who released her debut album, “The Time Has Come,” in 1992, has scored 20 Top 10 singles and six No. 1 hits. Notable standouts in her repertoire include “Independence Day” and “This One’s For the Girls.” Her latest single, “Girls Like Me,” was released in 2020.
“It’s The Holiday Season” (2018) is McBride’s 14th studio album and most recent full-length. Other notable releases include “Evolution” (1997), “Martina” (2003), “Shine” (2009) and “Reckless” (2016).
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
McBride, who moved to Nashville with her husband, John, in 1989, recently discussed her career in advance of her upcoming appearance.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working in the family band with your dad?
A: My dad taught me professionalism and to have a strong work ethic. We had to pack up everything, take it to the show, unload it, play for four hours, load it back up and then get home at like 3 in the morning. My dad paid us, so we were taught money lessons as well. We bought all of our own equipment. It was a lesson in work and how to have it not only be something we loved to do but it was also a responsibility.
Q: Everybody knows you as a country singer but after singing country with your family, you spent time in rock and R&B-pop groups. What did those experiences teach you as a singer?
A: Well, flexibility because the more styles you can sing the more well-rounded you are. I just love to sing. I love to sing all kinds of music and I always have. It’s like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. Trying to emulate people, that’s how you learn. Singing along to records by Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt or Reba McEntire, it’s all learning when you’re growing up.
Q: It looks like you’ve been busy on the road this year. When did you return to touring?
A: We started in July last year. July 2 was our first show back after the pandemic. We’ve pretty much been going non-stop. It’s been busy but it’s going well.
Q: What was it like having unexpected time off the road in 2020 and 2021?
A: It was a time of mixed emotions. Obviously, we were all wondering what was going to happen. Being off the road for 18 months was hard in a lot of ways, you know, to be away from making music and connecting with the fans. Of course, nobody knew the future. It’s scary when you don’t know what’s going to happen. But I also had all my kids here under one roof. It was a time to slow down and reset so it was nice in a way to be able to get off the wheel and step back and take time to just be together as a family.
Q: Did the pandemic impact any recording plans?
A: I didn’t have anything planned so it really wasn’t affected. I did record a song called ‘Girls Like Me.’ I was able to record that right as the lockdown was happening. I worked with a producer who fortunately plays every instrument and works out of his house so we were able to get the song recorded. I made a video totally by myself, basically, so that was an interesting experience.
Q: What are your future release plans?
A: I’m just focusing on touring right now. We have a lot of dates this year. I’m kind of focusing on that and waiting for the next idea. I’m kind of looking for inspiration and figuring out what to do next.
Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at email@example.com.
HOW TO GO
Who: Martina McBride
Where: Rose Music Center at The Heights, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 1. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Cost: $23.50, $33, $43, $53, $68, $73
More info: 513-232-6220 or www.rosemusiccenter.com
Artist info: www.martinamcbride.com