Martina McBride looks back on her 25 years in country music

Martina McBride: I instantly know when a song will be a hit
Martina McBride: I instantly know when a song will be a hit

By: Gibson Johns

Country legend Martina McBride has come home to country music.

Five years after releasing her last album of original music (she has since released a covers album called Everlasting), McBride is back and better than ever on Reckless. On the 10-track album, which was released at the end of April, McBride's connection to the material is evident, and her crystal-clear voice delivers.

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The country superstar's storied career has seen her sell over 14 million albums worldwide and win the Female Vocalist of the Year award at the CMAs four times. She has conquered the charts and conquered the hearts of her fans around the world, who have remained loyal over the last 25 years.

McBride has also continued to stress the importance of giving back over the years, and she's gearing up for a multi-city tour for Band Against Cancer this summer.

We hosted Martina McBride at our headquarters in New York City for a Facebook Live interview to talk about her outstanding new album Reckless, as well as her charity work, her family and her remarkable career as a country superstar.

See photos of Martina McBride from throughout her legendary career:

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Check out our full conversation with Martina McBride below:

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Your brand new album, Reckless, just came out! How does it feel to have all of this new material out in the world for your fans?

It's awesome! It's been five years since I put out an album of all originals. Just having the songs finished and out there, I'm just really proud of it and how it sounds. It's awesome.

Are you happy with how it's been received?

Of course I am! Unless I'm just not seeing it, all of the response has been really positive and the reviews have been good. I'm happy about that.

As you said, it's been five years since you last released an album of all original songs. Where did you draw inspiration from over the last five years for this collection of songs?

Taking a step back, I made an album called Everlasting, of R&B and soul covers. Just getting away from [country music] for a minute and doing a different kind of project and having time to recharge and get excited and miss it [was important]. We gotta step away to miss things every once in a while! I was really just excited to get back into the studio, and I had a lot of time to look through songs -- I wasn't rushed -- and have time to get the right material.

Tell me about the title track, "Reckless"? It's a really beautiful track with an equally as beautiful music video. What's that song about?

When I first head "Reckless," I was blown away. It was so vulnerable and really just a song about gratitude for unconditional love. I've told this story before, but I met my husband when I was 20 years old and singing in clubs in Kansas until three in the morning. I wasn't in the best place; I was probably partying too much. I met John and he really saw me, despite all of that. He was patient and kind and really lifted me up, and he made me a better person. He saw the person that I was and was crazy enough to love me unconditionally. We've been married for 28 years, and that's what the song means to be. But the song can also mean many, many things: It can be about a parent or a best friend or whomever that does that for you.

One of my favorite songs off of Reckless is your collaboration with Keith Urban, "Diamond." How did that come about?

He sang with me a few albums ago, and I loved the way our voices sounded together. We were sitting around the studio -- "Diamond" was finished -- and it needed something to kick it up a notch. So I said, "Let's ask Keith!" So I texted him -- yes, I do have his number [Laughs] -- and he said he would do it. He was really busy with "Idol" and his own record, but he said he would do it, and I think it sounds great.

You've previously said that recording this album felt like "coming home." Is that because you were "coming home" to country music after recording a covers album?

Yeah, I think so. It's fun to do covers -- I would be in a cover band if I could -- and we all love to sing karaoke, but by "coming home" I think I meant music that I felt so connected to and can bring to life in another way.

The song "Just Around The Corner" is incredibly powerful and provides an uplifting message. I understand it's connected to one of the charitable organizations you're working with -- can you explain that connection a bit?

We've teamed up with Sarah Cannon for Band Against Cancer, which is a campaign that involves us doing five shows throughout the year to raise money for cancer research. They have chosen "Just Around the Corner" for their theme song. It's a song about hope and about getting through something and realizing there is hope "just around the corner." It can be applied to any situation, but it's particularly fitting for what they're doing. You can go to BandAgainstCancer.com to find out the dates. We have a you couple dates in Texas, one in Denver and one in Nashville.

Why is cancer such a personal issue for you to spread awareness about?

I feel like it affects all of us at some level. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with it directly -- knock on wood -- in a super personal way, but I found the song, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," a couple of years ago and recorded it and -- just like I got involved with domestic violence through the song "Independence Day" -- sometimes you just find a song that wakes you up to certain things and make you realize that you can use that song to go a little further to make a difference.

How important is it for you to use your platform as a celebrity and as a performer to give back?

I think it's important. It's important to me, but I don't judge people that don't do it. It's not right for everybody, but it's just such an opportunity, you know? When I talk, people listen. So, using that to make the world a better place is a blessing. I have my own initiative, Team Music Is Love, [which] used to be called Team Martina, but we're transitioning it to be called Team Music Is Love because Music is love and it connects people.

It's very fan-oriented -- a fan started it! -- and fans have come up with whatever charities they want to work with in their own communities. Sometimes they'll do things in the towns that I'm performing in, showing up early to go to a food bank or a shelter and work in the community where I'm doing a show later that night. It's really cool! [Go to] TeamMusicIsLove.com if you want to join us -- we're growing very fast and what I love about it is that it's very fan-initiated. It's not necessarily stuff that I come up with, it's stuff that people feel passionate about in their own communities and they want to connect with people that also feel passionate about that and make a difference.

And you're supporting the fans that have supported you for so many years!

Yeah! It's awesome.

Fan-submitted question: Would you ever want to have your own cooking show?

I think that would be fun to have a cooking show, yeah! I'd have to work on my knife skills a little. [Laughs] I'm a home cook, you know? I'm not a trained chef; I don't know a lot of that stuff. When you watch me cook, people would probably say, "Oh no, that's all wrong!" But it would be a fun thing to try.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement career-wise?

That's a really hard question! A turning point in my career was when we won the CMA for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1999. That really gave us some momentum, and we had worked hard for that since 1992. It took a while, which was really gratifying. I'm not just talking about me: I'm talking about my crew, my band, my record company -- everybody it takes to make a career like this go. It wasn't just immediate. It was so exciting and gratifying. I always say, I felt like Cinderella that night.

What about your biggest personal accomplishment?

My daughters! I have three daughters: 21, 18 and 10. Just watching them grow into these amazing people -- they're very cool and very compassionate, beautiful souls. They're not spoiled, and they don't want a lot of stuff. In this industry I could've spoiled them, [but] John and I were both raised in the Midwest with those very mainstream Midwest values, and we passed that on. They're just great people, and we have a lot of fun together. They're so funny! The best compliment I get is when people say, "Your kids are amazing!" I'm like, "I know they are!" Not that I had a lot to do with it, but ... [Laughs]

What's your favorite album of yours?

I can't do that one, but I'll give you a few! I love Evolution, because I felt like it was an evolution with me musically. We really moved forward with that record. I loved Emotion because I remember, when I made that record, I was influenced by some other stuff. I had gone out and done the Lilith Fair, so I was listening to a lot of indie rock, and I came back really fired up to incorporate some of that into my sound. I think we accomplished that with that record, and it was really sonically challenging and cool. I also love the Martina record, because I love those songs. I love the Shinerecord, because I feel like that's the best I sang, probably. Then the new one, of course, Reckless I honestly feel like it's one of my best records. I just love it!

Fan-submitted question: Do you have any plans for a Reckless tour?

We are working on it! I'm still coming up with creative ideas. When I do a new tour, I always love to come up with something a little different. At the basis of it, I want [this tour] to be a very musical experience, so I'll probably pull out some old album cuts and songs we haven't done for a while. I want it to be a mix of the new album -- get familiar with it, because otherwise you'll be lost! -- and some stuff that we haven't done for many, many years.

There's a song called "From The Ashes" that I'd love to do, and we haven't done it for six years. The true fans are really going to enjoy it, because it's very musical and, at some point, you have to not be a human jukebox and trust the audience will go with you and follow you there.

Fan-submitted question: What's your favorite song on Reckless?

That's hard, because I don't record anything I don't absolutely love. I love "Reckless" and "Just Around the Corner." There's a song on here called "The Real Thing," which is cool because it's such a modern lyric -- it's talking about how we have cyber clouds, digital streams, fake tans, reality shows and everything is just one step away from reality, but sometimes we just have to step back and have the real thing. It's set against this really rootsy, country background.

What's been the craziest thing a fan has ever done for you?

I've had several fans get my autograph tattooed on them. It's flattering!

Looking back, what's something you would've changed

I would've toured more overseas in Australia and the UK. What happened was, when I was at a place when I could do that full force, I had kids that were in school. I wanted them to go to regular school and have the same experience I had. When they started school, we cut back on my touring. We couldn't invest the time it took to go over there for an extended amount of time. I wouldn't change anything with my kids -- they turned out great! -- but I wish I could've toured overseas more. I wish we could do that more in the future!

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