Martina McBride’s grateful to be back in business | Music


Martina McBride missed seeing fans as much as they missed seeing her.

Unable to tour due to the coronavirus pandemic, she stayed home, tended a huge garden and spent time with her family.

“It wasn’t a particularly creative time for me…I didn’t create much music, but I sang and listened to music and I missed touring,” she says. “I really missed touring.”

Band members who have been with her for more than 25 years are like family, she explains. Not seeing them was difficult. “We all wanted to get back to work, but we couldn’t,” McBride says. “It was devastating for the music industry.”

Besides performers, the shutdown affected venue personnel, security, lighting and stage crews. “It’s a bit like the restaurant industry,” McBride says. “The (music) industry feeds a lot of people and when they can’t work…that’s scary.”

Luckily, the four-time CMA female vocalist of the year was able to get back on the road in July. Those first shows, she says, were a bit nerve-racking. “We’d say, ‘Are we sure this is a good idea?’ At the same time, we were taking all the precautions.”

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Now ramping up her touring schedule, she’s grateful to be back in front of audiences, singing the songs that made her one of the biggest names in country music. Today, she says, it’s a male-dominated field in all sectors of the business.

“When radio doesn’t play females, record companies stop signing females and writers stop writing for females,” she says. “When I look back over the history of country music, the most iconic superstars are women. The most timeless songs are from women.”

A more even playing field existed in the late 1990s and early 2000s because listeners liked a variety of voices. “When I was successful, Faith Hill, Shania (Twain) and I were all able to co-exist,” McBride says. “Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson were in there, too, and, sonically, it made sense for all that to exist at the same time.”

Today, “hard-driving ‘bro’ country” kinds of songs dominate radio playlists. “You’ll have five or seven of those in a row,” she says. “There used to be more texture, more melody, more tempos, more grooves.”

While streaming and other outlets can give young female artists a chance, McBride wonders how newcomers handle the business. “I had this big machine, big executives telling me what I needed to do and I did it. Now, those artists are just trying to fend for themselves. The landscape isn’t what it used to be.” Cassadee Pope, Hailey Whitters and Maggie Rose are three newcomers she admires.

Surprisingly, McBride’s three daughters aren’t interested in following her in the business. They saw what it’s like “and it’s not all glamorous.”

Meanwhile, friend Faith Hill has sequenced into acting with “1883.” While McBride says, “never say never,” she hasn’t considered acting. “If something came along that I could do really well and it worked with my family, I’d consider it.”

Still, there’s touring that has to be taken care of.

“It was tempting to kind of be a homebody,” McBride says. “But it’s great to be back.”

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