STORY WRITTEN BY DAVID KLEINMAN
For 21st Century Media
One day you’re hot, the next day you’re not. While this adage may ring true for most musicians, it’s not uncommon for country fans to embrace their favorite artist for a lifetime.
After nearly a quarter-century spent recording Gold-certified albums and touring across the world Martina McBride launched her twelfth record, “Everlasting,” at #1 on the Billboard country charts. The recording also earned McBride her whopping 17th CMA award nomination, tying with Reba McEntire for the most recognitions in any vocalist category.
The success of “Everlasting” is a testament to McBride’s devoted fan base as she veers off the course of her signature neo-traditionalist and pop-styled crossover sound. Her latest collection features a dozen Soul and R&B covers including Motown favorites “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Come See About Me’ and many more.
“We wanted to cover the Memphis sound, the Detroit sound, Muscle Shoals is in there, and a lot of different aspects crossed over to country music. A lot of the songs have been remade by country artists but my parents were a little freaked out when I told them what I was doing, it sounds weird on paper. When they actually heard the songs they were like ‘Oh, I know these songs’,” she laughed.
Calling from the tour bus en route to a performance in Jim Thorpe, Pa. in support of “Everlasting,” McBride spoke candidly of the process nailing down a set list comprised of fan favorites and her latest efforts.
“You don’t want audiences to just sit there bored with unfamiliar songs, with this record it’s mostly familiar and it’s fresh. I think of what a fan would want to hear, I try to make it well-rounded and very powerful, emotional and fun. All of that rolled into one two-hour show.”
There are 69 stops on the Everlasting tour, including the Keswick Theatre on Dec. 3, with dates scheduled throughout March. On Dec. 14, the tour breaks in time for McBride and her 11-piece band to go home to their families to celebrate the upcoming holidays.
“Our eldest daughter, who’s almost 20, moved out on her own. This is the first year she can come back, we’re really looking forward to spending Christmas together at home. Sometimes I do a costume party for our friends but Christmas morning is just going to be the five of us. We have a big breakfast and the big dinner together, it’s a really special time.”
It’s a chance for McBride to take pause and put into practice favorite family recipes she recently shared in her new cookbook, “Around the Table.” She relishes the luxury of scheduling book signing dates and concert stops around her family’s most important commitments.
“When I’m home it’s not a huge focus, I don’t even think they remember what I do half the time unless we’re out and I get asked for my autograph or a picture. I’m actually having more fun with this tour than any one in the past because my girls are more grown, I can focus on a show and also have this album that I’m doing. Over the years I might tour only on the weekend and I’ll take my girls with me, my family life is kind of all rolled into one big life.”
Not one to favor slowing down, McBride already has plans throughout 2015 for an album of country originals and a Christmas record scheduled for this time next year. As her three daughters, ages 19, 16, 9, continue to grow so does the opportunity for McBride to expand her horizons in the studio and beyond.
In McBride’s eyes, the greatest accomplishment stemming from her 14 million records sold in the U.S. is the personal connections she’s created as a result of the music and lyrics. Touring affords her the opportunity to perform live a track that might have affected just one ticketholder’s life in a very personal way.
“I love what I do, I feel like it’s what I was sent here to do. I’ve certainly heard a lot of stories and examples of songs I’ve had that mean something to people and impacted their lives. To be on the other end of that and to be able to give people songs that made a difference is really amazing, it’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted.
Doing an album that’s a little off the beaten path, independently released and not mainstream country feels amazing. I have great, great fans who are very loyal and excited about what I do, it really means a lot.”
IF YOU GO
What: Martina McBride
Where: Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave, Glenside.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $54, $69, $75
Info.: Call (215) 572-7650 or check www.keswicktheatre.com.