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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

A night with Martina McBride

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Editor's note: This version corrects that Martina McBride is from Sharon, Kan.

In 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" became an overnight sensation, making Billy Ray Cyrus famous and giving birth to the country line-dance craze.

That was also the year that Martina McBride, a farmer's daughter from Sharon, Kan., made her debut on country radio with "The Time Has Come."

Cyrus' singing career never got brighter than his breakout hit 20 years ago, but McBride has been a mainstay on country radio, winning the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year four times.

And she's still a force in the country music scene. Her recent hit, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," chronicled a woman's battle with breast cancer and the support she received from her husband. It was nominated for a Grammy and rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Country chart.

Each year, a new crop of powerhouse female singers hits radio, but McBride rates as one of the top voices in the industry.

"For me, it's all about making the best music I can make, and I don't try and compare myself to anyone else. The fans decide, ultimately, whether you're relevant or not," she said. "Most people, honestly, hope for a 10-year career. It's definitely a great thing that I've been around for 20. I've been blessed."

Making her five platinum albums and 51 singles even more impressive is that she's done it while balancing the demands of motherhood.

She and husband John have three daughters; Delaney, 17; Emma, 14; and Ava, 7. Her songs often touch on motherhood, and many are meant to be empowering to girls and women, including hits "Blessed," "This One's for the Girls," and "In My Daughter's Eyes."

"My oldest daughter is a senior in high school, so we're doing all the senior things like looking at colleges. It's her last year in the house, and it's exciting to see her getting ready for new adventures. My middle daughter is a freshman in high school, and we have a second-grader as well. It's been a great year for us," she said.

This past year has also seen McBride make the transition from performing in arenas to smaller venues, like the Stranahan Theater, where she'll perform Saturday night.

"Last year I got the opportunity to play a couple of theaters, and I loved it. It's more intimate, and it's paced differently. I don't feel like I need to keep people on their feet all night long. We get to hang out, listen to music, and get to know each other."

McBride will play from a set list, but she'll also mix in requests fans might make on Twitter (@martinamcbride) throughout the day of the show.

She'll be along on George Strait's farewell tour that will pack arenas across the country next year, but after 20 years of making music, McBride is enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere surrounding her current theater tour.

"I'm more personable than people have ever seen me. At this point, I've done a lot of shows and my goal has always been to connect with the audience. We're doing that in a more intense way," she said. "There's going to be a lot of music and talking. If people want to see a show and get to know me, this is the show to see."

Martina McBride will perform at the Stranahan Theater on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$62.50 and can be purchased at the box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., by phone at 419-381-8851 or online atetix.com.

Contact Brian Dugger at: bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.



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