Music's message important cause to country singer
Standing on stage and singing her heart out, Martina McBride looks out at her audiences and knows ...atistically — what must...
Times Snohomish County Bureau
Martina McBrideWhen: 7 p.m. Saturday. Opening act is Little Big Town.
Where: Everett Events Center, 2000 Hewitt Ave.
Tickets: $34.75 to $59.75; at the box office, by calling 866-332-8499 or at www.everettevents
Standing on stage and singing her heart out, Martina McBride looks out at her audiences and knows — statistically — what must be true.
There are abused spouses and children out there, yes, and even abusers.
That's what she wrote about in songs such as "Independence Day," "A Broken Wing" and "Concrete Angel."
That's what impelled the Grammy-nominated singer to be a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based National Network to End Domestic Violence.
It's what makes her say "yes" to requests to use those songs to help support shelters, telephone hotlines and other services for families in crisis.
"We'd put cards with the hotline in the bathrooms of the venues," she said.
Sometimes, the message in the music hits home.
"People in abusive relationships for years, they hear it on the radio, they leave," McBride said. "There's the power of music."
McBride comes to the Everett Events Center on Saturday as part of a national tour. The entertainer the Chicago Sun-Times called the best live act of 2006 says her new show is the biggest production she has ever done, and "the most fun I've ever had on tour." Guest artist Little Big Town, a Grammy-nominated independent band, opens the show.
"It's a high-energy show," McBride says. "It's a rock show; it's pretty intense.
"Lights, moving video screens, eye candy to look at," she says with a laugh. But, "at the end of the day, it's about the connection with the audience. When the audience leaves, they know me a little bit better."
Like other singers with a bent for storytelling, she dramatizes each tune, whether it's a slow ballad or straight-ahead, driving country rock.
"I select songs that resonate with me on a personal level," said McBride, who has won acclaim for her production savvy. "I have it in my head how I want it to sound. It's like painting a picture. I have a gut instinct how I want to do it."
The Kansas-born singer was in a family band from the age of 7, and her powerful, emotional soprano brings to life the unseen "you" she's addressing in the songs. That range and expression has earned her top nods as Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association.
"When people hear me sing, they want to put themselves in the situation," she said.
At the concert, McBride will do many of the singles that made her famous, as well as songs from "Timeless," her tribute CD.
"Timeless," which earned her a Grammy nomination for "I Still Miss Someone," pays tribute to artists such as Ray Charles, and though she didn't copy the originals lick for lick, McBride definitely wanted the tunes to sound vintage, "like a vinyl record," she said. "We used old guitars, old drum sets. It's my favorite album."
She'll also do songs from her ninth and latest release, "Waking Up Laughing," which includes three songs McBride penned, including "Anyway," which was among the top 10 on the country charts for weeks.
A free block party outside the Events Center gears up the action from 3-7 p.m. Saturday. Whether you're a ticket-holder or not, you're invited to the party along blocked-off Hewitt Avenue between Broadway and Lombard Avenue. There will be music, food and games.
McBride will be inside, preparing. "We do a sound check at 3:30, I have some autographs to sign, I eat dinner at 5, shower and get ready, meet and greet at 6:30 p.m., and then it's time to do the show.
"It's always come naturally, as I've done it more and more. The biggest crowds we've ever had are on this tour."
McBride produced "Waking Up Laughing" on her own, and the control she exerts on the creative process is something probably only other divas — from opera singers like Kathleen Battle to pop legends like Barbra Streisand — can really understand.
"At this point, people understand I'm very involved in my career," McBride says.
"Everybody else can find another job. Managers move on to other artists. You have one career, so you have to take care of it. You should have an opinion on how you should be presented.
"If you want to take care of a career, it's a constant presence in your life," she said. "I have a whole other life."
That would be her family life in Nashville — she's married to sound engineer John McBride, with three daughters, ages 12, 9 and 2.
"I have down time, but my career and family life are rolled into one big thing. We don't sit around the table and talk about marketing plans and 'How did your do on your test today?' "
With the success of "Timeless" and other recordings, McBride doesn't rule out any genre of music in the future.
"I think at this point, I'm not closing my mind to anything," she said. "I love singing, I love music, I love great songs. I'm at the point in my career I can do things for fun."
Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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