Title: Martina McBride Tells Her Tennessee Story
One of Country musicís most popular entertainers with 22 top ten hits, Grand Ole Opry member Martina McBride has won a truckload of awards, including seven Female Vocalist of the Year trophiesófour from the CMA (tying her with Reba McEntire), and three from the Academy of Country Music. She has also claimed a Grammy, two Clios, three Nashville Music Awards, two American Music Awards, one from Billboard, and several video awards. She has her own doll from Mattel, was featured on A/E Biography, and is the subject of a college course.
And sheís recognized for her good works almost as much as for her music. A spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence and several cancer-related causes, she has received the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award, the AMC Home Depot Humanitarian Award, and Lifetime Televisionís Champions for Change award.
Why is Tennessee special?
McBride: Tennessee is special for a lot of reasons; the most important for me is the people. I moved here from Kansas, from a small town where it was a very close-knit community, and I get that sensibility from being in Tennessee, from moving here. It was very easy to connect with people; people were very helpful, people were very nice and friendly.
Why did you choose to make Nashville a home?
McBride: Moving to Nashville was about my career, my dream, which has always been to sing country music, to be a country music artist. So, I realized in order to do that I need to be in the place where they make the music and where there are people who will help me realize my dream. So, Nashville was the place that I set out for and never looked back. Nashville is kind of like, if youíre going to do Broadway you move to New York, if youíre going to make movies you move to Hollywood or L.A. If you make country music, itís just the way of thinking that you move to Nashville. I mean the record companies are here, publishing companies are here, a huge song writing community, lots of studios, lots of great musicians, just people who will help you make your dream come true.
How did you know you wanted to be a country music star?
McBride: Well, I started out singing country music from the time I was about three years old. I really didnít know there was any other kind of music. My father was a musician, and a farmer, but also played music as a hobby on the weekends. I started singing with his band when I was about seven years old. All I knew was country music, until I got a little older.
I have an older brother and an older sister, and I started realizing there was something else too, called rock and roll, and pop music. And like every kid, I rebelled, and decided that I wanted to take a break from country music and be a rock star. That lasted about two years, and then I had the realization that country music is really where my heart is.
Whatís so special about performing country music?
McBride: I think country music is a lot more about storytelling, you know. Itís more about storytelling and itís aboutÖ the song is really important, and your interpretation of the song. I think country music artists have a special connection with their fans. I think country music fans are very loyal and have a lot of access to the artists. What draws me to it is not only just having been raised on it; it feels like home to me, but just the songÖ itís like poetry.
What does the Ryman Auditorium mean to you?
McBride: The Ryman auditorium is where all of my heroes played music. You stand on that stage and you realize, Patsy Cline sang here, Hank Williams sang here, Bill Monroe sang here, and thereís something about all theÖ I know this sounds weird, and youíre gonna think Iím crazy, but all the wood in there, all the original old wood pews are there, and I think that itís soaked up something. I dunno, thereís just a feeling like no other, when you play that building; you can almost actually feel the history in the air. Iíve been to a concert at the Ryman, and I love it. Itís my favorite place to see a concert, because of the history thatís here, and everybody that plays here usually has a reverence for being here and they respect the Ryman Auditorium, and its history, and what it means to country music. And you can really feel that when theyíre on stage.
What does Nashville mean to you?
McBride: Nashville is obviously my home now, and my kids go to school here, and we travel so much that when we get home we pretty much just stay at home. Itís funny, I traveled so much for the first, say 12, 13 or 14 years that I lived here. I took some time off from the road and, all of a sudden, I realized there was so much of Nashville that I hadnít even seen. A couple of years ago, I was pregnant with my third daughter and we kind of discovered Nashville; we took the summer off. She was born in June, and I realized Nashville in the summertime was something I had never experienced before because I had always been on tour in the summer.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in Nashville?
McBride: Oh letís see, the Boundary is fun, we love Ruthís Chrisís. Iím kind of discovering some new restaurants in Nashville. Of course, there are a lot of places I would like to go that I havenít. Of course, Cracker Barrel is always good (laughs).
What are some of your favorite places to listen to live music?
McBride: Probably my favorite places to see live music, the top one would definitely be the Ryman, and then the Sommet Center, the arena here. The arena here was built with acoustics in mind, which is not usually the case in an arena, especially a sports arena, so itís very enjoyable to hear a concert there, and to play a concert there as well.
Whatís your fondest Tennessee memory?
McBride: Thatís hard, my favorite memory, I was gonna say would revolve around the holidays that we spend here and the time that we spend here. But actually, now that I think about it, my favorite Tennessee memory would be the very first time I ever came here. I was sixteen years old and I had won a state talent contest in Kansas, and the prize was that you got to come perform in Nashville at the national competition. I had never really been out of Kansas, I think had been to Oklahoma and Missouri, but it was a huge trip for my family and I, and we all came down here and did the Ryman tour and just seeing Nashville because I had heard so much about it. It was the place where all the dreams come true, and I was actually here, and it was just something I will never forget.
What are your holidays like in Tennessee?
McBride: Well, I have a brother that lives here with his family, so we all get together, and I usually cook. And for Christmas, we wake up on Christmas morning and open our presents and hang out in our pajamas all day and have a big Christmas dinner, and itís just normal, you know, normal stuff.
Robert Hicks enjoys:
Historic Downtown Franklin
Location: Franklin, TN
Martina McBride enjoys:
Location: Nashville, TN
Clint Black enjoys:
Beale Street Historic District
Location: Memphis, TN
Charlie Daniels enjoys:
Location: Nashville, TN