Martina McBride used to sell t-shirts on the road with Garth Brooks while her husband worked the tours as a lighting and sound technician but the McBrides left all that behind when Martina had her first smash with “My Baby Loves Me” in 1992. The Grammy-winning Kansas native’s biggest hits are often heart wrenching and profound, but she’s just as capable of delivering chart topping hits with whimsical and light-hearted fare. She gained her biggest country crossover hit with “I Love You” in 1999, which spent five weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs. She’s been a member of the WSM Grand Ole Opry since 1995.
Seventeen years ago, she was just one of many. A girl with the ability to sing a song like nobody’s business and the dream that people would let her do just that. As it turned out, people loved the young lady from Kansas so much that today, not only is she still doing that, she’s doing it for more people than ever before.
“What’s exciting for me is I still feel like my career is growing,” says an enthusiastic Martina. “It’s crazy, but I know from the internet and things like that there are still people discovering my music and hearing me for the first time. It might be a new song that gets their interest. I might be singing at a football game that makes them aware of who I am or they might hear an old song on the radio. Whatever it may be, people are still discovering my music. We’re still making new fans that are coming out to see our shows that have never seen us before.” That growth is well represented on Shine, Martina’s tenth studio album (all on RCA Records Nashville). Titled not only as a nod to the lyrics in three of the songs encompassed within, but because of what the word ‘shine’ suggests: Powerful. Positive. Strong.
It’s also what she plans to do as she takes that aforementioned growth and runs with it in a variety of directions. In addition to the guitar-laden sound, Shine found Martina expanding her circle of co-producers by enlisting veteran Dann Huff to co-produce with her for the very first time. This decision brought a new perspective and, while it freed her from the minutia of production, it also afforded her the opportunity to be primarily an artist and a singer. “I felt that I wanted to move forward, production-wise, which isn’t always easy. I think it was time to find somebody with a different, fresh take on my music. I felt like I needed someone to help me do things a bit differently, and I instinctively felt Dann was right for the job.
“I’m so excited about this music and this time in my life. Creatively I have a renewed energy and I feel like this album reflects that.”
- Martina McBride
“This album feels to me like when I was making Evolution or Emotion. That was such a creative time for me with this crazy energy and creativity. I felt so passionate about those records and then I kind of lost that for a little bit. Not that I don’t like the records I made after that, but I can remember going in with the Martina album kind of feeling like we had been there, done that. It was really a struggle for me to find inspiration and creativity. That’s why I did Timeless so I could recharge and take a breather from having to create new music.
The fresh sound is immediately noticeable right from the opening guitar lick of “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong,” a song that celebrates the friendship and support two girlfriends can have when the wrong guy is finally “…gone baby gone.” The new sounds continue on through the light and airy “Sunny Side Up,” a song co-written by Martina and the veteran hit songwriters Brad & Brett Warren. However, not everything on Shine falls under the realm of new. Always one to successfully straddle that fine line between staying innovative and remaining familiar, Martina brings her signature bombastic vocals to songs like “Walk Away,” “What Do I Have To Do,” and the four on the floor, “God-Fearin’ Women”-esque “You’re Not Leaving Me.” Also remaining true to form is her affinity for story songs with the all too timely “Don’t Cost A Dime,” a song reminding us that regardless of how things might be going in the world, love is its own currency. Created with the mindset of making a cohesive album as opposed to a collection of 11 songs that could be singles, Shine is arguably Martina’s best compilation. The recording process stretched over a ten month period not only because of her touring schedule, but primarily due to her uncompromising devotion to recording only great songs.
“The music is just who I am. I have a really strong sense of who I am, what works for me and what I like. There’s a certain positivity to my music, even though some of my biggest hits have been songs that aren’t necessarily happy, like ‘Concrete Angel,’ ‘Where Would You Be’ and ‘Independence Day.’ The songs on Shine are definitely not all positive, but even if the song is about heartbreak or loss, there is a strength to it that comes through.”
At the end of the day, while the years on the calendar may have changed, Martina has not.
“I want my fans to love Shine like they’ve loved all the albums. I want to make new fans with this record and have hits on the radio. I want to be able to go out and play this music live and keep building my touring. For me, it’s still challenging to make it all happen because no matter where you are in your career, ultimately it’s up to the fans.”