My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Martina McBride

martinamcbrideSharon, Kansas native Martina Schiff grew up listening to and performing country music. From the age of eight, she sang with The Schifters, a band her father had formed. After marrying sound engineer John McBride in 1988, she moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. John obtained work as part of Garth Brooks’ sound crew and later became his concert production manager. Martina sold T-shirts at Brooks’ concerts and so impressed the country superstar that he agreed to produce a demo tape for her, which eventually led to a record deal with RCA and a gig as Brooks’ opening act.

Martina’s debut album The Time Has Come was released in 1992 and was a modest success. True success came a year later with the release of her sophomore album The Way That I Am, which was in more of a country-pop vein than her mostly traditional sounding debut album. The Way That I Am produced Martina’s first top 10 hits, “My Baby Loves Me” and “Life #9”. The controversial “Independence Day”, a tale of domestic abuse and retribution, was also included on the album. The single was released in April 1994, and was just making some inroads on the country singles chart around the time of the O.J. Simpson murders in June of that year. Because of the subject matter, many radio stations refused to play the record. It peaked outside the Top 10, but it still became Martina’s signature tune, winning the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year Award in 1994. She would revisit the abuse theme over the course of her career with songs such as 1997’s “A Broken Wing” and 2002’s “Concrete Angel”.

Following the highly successful Evolution album, which was released in 1997, Martina moved further into pop and adult contemporary territory. She performed as a guest vocalist on pianist Jim Brickman’s “Valentine”, which peaked at #3 on the adult contemporary charts, and her 1999 bubble-gum pop hit “I Love You”, which was featured on the soundtrack to the film Runaway Bride, reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, #21 on the AC chart and #1 on the country singles chart. She was named the CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1999. In 2005 she revisited her roots with the classic country covers album Timeless, which sold over a million copies but produced no radio hits.

More recently, Martina has taken more control over her career, writing more of her own material and producing some of her own albums, but she has struggled to get airplay in a radio environment that has become increasingly indifferent to artists over the age of 40. She left RCA in 2010, and signed with Republic Nashville. Her first single for her new label, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, became her first Top 5 hit in five years, but she has been unable to sustain that level of success with subsequent releases.

The quality of her material may have tapered off in recent years, but Martina McBride’s talent as one of contemporary country music’s finest female vocalists is undisputed. We hope you’ll enjoy our look back at the past 20 years as we spotlight Martina’s career during the month of January.


6 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Martina McBride

  1. Michael A. January 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I can’t believe Martina McBride hasn’t already been Artist of the Month at MKOC. Regardless, I’m excited for January. I just finished completing her discography in my iTunes library. Happy New Year!

    • Razor X January 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      She’s been on our list of artists to cover for a long time, but for one reason or another we’ve postponed spotlighting her. We finally decided that it was time to give Martina her due. 😉

  2. Paul W Dennis January 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Martina is a fine artist, one of the few female country singers who could probably survive in any era. Curiously enough, however, my favorite of her albums, TIMELESS, demonstrated that she really does not have the controlled vocal power that Jean Shepard, Connie Smith or Loretta Lynn had at their peak.

    I’m really looking forward to this series

  3. Andrew Leprich January 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Nice. I am a fan of Martina, but am not especially familiar with her work beyond her hit singles. Time for an education!

  4. Michelle January 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I love Martina and her music I just wish she would come to Australia.

  5. Ben Foster January 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Not whom I would have expected, but a very worthy choice. Martina McBride has definitely made plenty of excellent music worth writing about.

    By the way, her first single for her new label was “Teenage Daughters” – not “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” which was her second.

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