She’s sold over 14 million albums, but Martina McBride has never forgotten where she comes from and credits her rural Kansas upbringing with giving her the drive to succeed.
“I’m the daughter of a third-generation farmer,” the singer, whose hits include “Independence Day” and “A Broken Wing,” tells Closer. “It taught me a really strong work ethic. You have to be passionate about being a farmer because it’s hard. That made a big impression on me growing up. It helped shape me for trying to make it in the music business.”
Martina’s hard work and passion for music helped her to reach the top of the charts, but also propelled her to do more for others. Last May, Marina, 54, appeared on the second season of NBC’s Songland, which gives opportunities to the next generation of young songwriters. Earlier this year, she released the single “Girls Like Me,” which was written by Halie, a participant on the show.
Keep scrolling below to read Closer‘s exclusive Q&A interview with Martina McBride!
What does your latest single, “Girls Like Me,” mean to you?
Well, it came out of Songland, a show that really mentors up-and-coming songwriters and gives them an opportunity to get a cut by an artist — songwriters are near and dear to my heart! I also love the message in this song. It’s saying the mistakes and messiness of life are what makes us stronger people. It says I’ve been there and it’s going to be okay.
You’ve often recorded songs with a strong female point of view. How important is that to you?
It’s very important. I feel like women right now are making unique music. We have different ways of expressing ourselves, which for me is exciting. I love singing songs that empower women.
You have three daughters: Delaney, 25, Emma, 22, and Ava, 15. How have you encouraged them to grow into great women?
Lots of communication. They feel comfortable coming to me and talking about the big stuff and the little stuff. I’ve really worked to instill that in them since they were little and it’s paid off. I’ve always told them that my favorite job is being their mom.
What makes you proudest when you see the kind of people they are growing into?
Their compassion. They’re very compassionate girls who desire to make the world a better place. They’re smart, they’re funny and they really see the world in a unique way. I really love that.
You’ve been married to the girls’ father, John McBride, for 32 years. What’s your secret to a successful marriage?
Once again, I think it is communication. I married my best friend. He’s an amazing partner in life and also my sound engineer, so our careers complement each other. We’re also both from Kansas, so that’s another common ground we share. I got lucky that I found somebody who fits me so well. We also still like to hang out together most of the time!
How has your family fared during the pandemic?
We’ve spent a lot of time together. In looking for a silver lining of this whole period, I do cherish this time. My two older kids live on their own, but they’ve all been here. We ate every meal together, played games, had a lot of discussions. So to just be able to really slow down and not have anywhere to go — at the end of the day, it was a really precious time.
Did you always know you wanted to be a performer?
I did. I knew that I wanted to sing and be onstage. As a teenager I wanted to find a way to get to Nashville. So yes, this is always what I wanted to do.
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Well, all the icons like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire, but really my biggest was Linda Ronstadt. When I was a teenager I just loved her. What I loved about her, other than her beautiful voice, was her song choices and how she floated between genres. She wasn’t a country artist or a rocker, she just kind of did everything, but it always had a lot of country flavor to it. I was obsessed with her. Growing up in a small rural area, we didn’t have vocal coaches, so I would sing along to her records for hours. That’s really how I learned.
If you hadn’t made it as a singer, what do you think you would be doing?
Well, my other passion is cooking. I might have opened a restaurant or catering company. If I was going to stay in the music industry, I might have been a producer or picked songs for artists. I would’ve definitely been involved in something creative.
The Country Music Hall of Fame announced an exhibition about your life and career. What an honor!
Oh, it’s just amazing. It was on my bucket list! I’ve been singing since I was 3 or 4 years old, so I want it to encompass my whole life and show where I came from. I want them really make it personal and fun for people to come see from all over the world.
Tell us about your involvement in the Cover Crops Project.
As a mom of three children, sustainability is important to me. Country Crock is committed to help 80 farmers in Kansas plant 13,000 acres of cover crops. They put nutrients in the soil, prevent soil erosion and help the long-term health of the soil in between planting seasons. Country Crock approached me about spreading the word. It’s just such a cool initiative.
What else do you have coming up?
We’re doing a concert series with Country Crock. It’s the Red Barn Sessions next fall. It’s cool for a couple of reasons. One, I get to perform and make a connection with fans, which I am desperately missing after not being able to be on the road this year. Also it spotlights some up-and-coming artists, Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen. It’s so important to me to support new music.
— Reporting by Katie Bruno