McBride enjoys hard-won success

February 19, 2010|By Sam Sessa |

Mainstream success came slowly for Martina McBride.

Though the singer's first couple of albums spawned a handful of hits on the country charts, McBride's breakthrough didn't come until her fourth album, 1997's "Evolution." Since then, McBride has churned out a string of hits, selling more than 18 million albums and amassing 23 top-10 singles. Her latest album, "Shine," hit shelves last year, and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, McBride, 41, comes to 1st Mariner Arena, along with Trace Adkins.

Question: You've said you always thought you were going to make it big, but it took a couple of albums for you to have your first big hit. Back then, did you ever doubt your abilities or your music?

Answer: No, I never really doubted the music or my abilities. You just wonder what's going on. You try to look through every aspect of your career - everybody that's involved - and try to make sure everybody is on the same page. ... We'd have a hit and then we'd have a song that didn't do well, and we'd have a hit and then another song that didn't do well. It was just really trying to figure out what was going on. I don't know I ever figured it out.

Q: A few years ago, you started writing your own music. Has composing gotten easier with time?

A: It's getting easier. The hardest part is taking the time to do it. But once I get started and carve out some time to sit down and make it happen, I'm really enjoying it. It's a lot of fun. I haven't written anything for the brand-new album yet, but I did write a song for the last album. I'm really picky about the songs that go on my records. Just because I write a song doesn't mean it's going to make it on the record. It still has to stand up. But it's another way to be creative, it's another outlet.

Q: How critical are you of your songs and your singing?

A: I'm pretty critical. I'm kind of a perfectionist. I don't really like to settle for something that isn't great. I work hard on my records and our live shows, and want to give the fans the best I can.

Q: With the number of albums you've sold and all the awards you've won, you could hang it up today, if you wanted to. What keeps you writing music and touring?

A: I love it. It's what I love to do, and I still feel like I have more music to make. I have places to go in my career. But mostly, it's what I've dreamed of doing, ever since I was a little girl. It's so much fun and fulfilling.

Q: What quality does a song have to have for you to like it?

A: Honesty. To me, a song has to feel true. I'm not drawn to songs that sound contrived. I just love songs that sound inspired. That's what I love about country music - it's really honest. When I hear a song like "Help Me Make it Through the Night" by Kris Kristofferson or "Today I Started Loving You Again" by Merle Haggard, they sound conversational, like the truth. That's what I'm drawn to.

Q: How do you measure success?

A: It's tricky. Obviously, you want to be happy with what you've done. If you're happy with it, it's a success in that way. But success is judged by how many records you sell, how many tickets you sell, if you have hits on the radio. That's the barometer the whole world judges you on, so those things are important.

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