Traci asked if I could feature her favorite, Martina McBride. Of course, and it's about time we got around to her. She was an interesting country star in many ways. Sure, she rattled off a long line of hits over many years and had a loyal fan base. But when you listen to her sing, she sounds a little apart from other contemporaries of the 1990's and early 2000's. I played every MMc song ever released, and was proud to do so.
Her Very First Song Release -
MMc grew up in Kansas, raised on a dairy farm and fell in love with singing at a very young age. She was in a couple bands ranging from country to rock as a kid. She married a guy named John McBride who ended up traveling with Garth Brooks as a sound crew member. And if my memory serves me right, she would head out with him sometimes and sell Garth merch on those early Garth tours. Garth was impressed and eventually offered her a chance to open up some of his shows and the door was now open. She got a record deal with RCA.
First Big Hit - #2 Got Her Noticed!
Her first album, The Time Has Come came out early 90's. The title song, I loved, but it was not a big hit and couple more misfires from that album failed to really connect. But her second album, The Way That I Am, was a big success, and led to great things up the road. My Baby Loves Me, her first big hit, was a great song, and charted well. Independence Day was also on that album, and was very, very popular with fans, but radio had some reservations about it as it talks of course about burning a house down, and worse, to escape domestic abuse. But this song instantly propelled her to great heights. I remember thinking back then, "Wow this song is really edgy.." And for the early 1990's it was. I know, that seems insanely silly by today's standards.
This Song Changed Many Things - For Her - And Us!
Even though ID did NOT make it to the top ten, and in a charting sense was not a "big hit," it was award winning, and award nominated many times over for her and the song writer, Gretchen Peters and was universally loved by fans. Plain and simple this song ended up being a "big hit" and needed Martina - and Martina needed that song, it was a perfect match. It was the early 1990's, things have changed much in music and country music since. Her passionate, soaring vocals and cutting edge subject matter on this song was a big turning point. Carrie Underwood has since made an entire career out of dealing out deadly revenge in songs. Independence Day changed a whole lot of things in country music. We were not quite as polite as we were before. Fans loved that song, and still do and we got a lot more real.
Through the 1990's MMc had a ton of hits, and much of her music in its sound was reminiscent of Faith Hill or even Shania to a degree, although her music was not near as carefree as Twain's. She transitioned from a more country sound early on to a more evolved pop country sound with deeper subject matter as time went on. Much of her music was delivering a "message." She had five number one songs, a number of very big albums, and won Female Vocalist Of The Year three times. She garnered Grammy nominations and enjoyed some great success overall as one of the faces of country of the 1990's especially. She also sold about 18 million albums.
This Was A Very Popular Song At The Time!
She was not as country as Patty Loveless, Pam Tillis, Terri Clark and others, as she was on the pop side of the format. What I always found interesting about her was this. The exact same thing that made her beyond wildly popular with many fans, held her back from other fans. I don't feel MMc was polarizing, but I think there were times she did not connect with the more traditional listener, while at the same time she was deeply connecting with others. Her music by and large was deep with definite meaning and purpose, and there is nothing wrong with that. But 1990's country overall was fun and a bit more lighthearted. I do think there are times we do take ourselves too seriously in country still today, but during her run, she found a nice niche and it worked very well.
Powerful Song And Video
But with that said, big success can't be denied, and Martina had a bunch of it. She was blessed with an incredible voice that was pure and versatile. Not many of her era, any era, and this era, can out sing her. Her strong, confident and powerful voice is legendary. She sounds great singing her songs, the National Anthem, Christmas music, show tunes, the dictionary, or just about anything else. She is a pure vocalist, that sings country music. She is one of the best pure singers we've ever had, and not many would, could, or should argue that.
Always Loved This Song
She also was amazing in her personal life as she greatly reduced her recording and touring to be a "normal" mom. She raised a ton of money and has done incredible work raising awareness for ending domestic violence and other very meaningful causes. She spent her career singing from her heart and her fans felt that. And then she walked the walk. In the 1990's she was part of a great decade for this format and was out front with so many great women of the decade.
A Real Fun #1
Martina McBride, Great story. Great music, Great voice. Great career.