Martina McBride will perform an ‘Everlasting’ concert at Deer Valley
July 1, 2014
When country music singer Martina McBride performs at Deer Valley on July 3, fans can expect to hear her trademark range and anthemic ballads.
But the audience will also get another side of the four-time Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year — her love of soul and rhythm and blues that is evident on her new album, "Everlasting," which is a collection of soul, rhythm and blues pop covers.
"The show is a combination of everything," McBride said during a telephone call from Nashville, Tennessee. "I built my show around the record and there are a lot of songs that people know."
One thing McBride wanted was a lot of visuals.
"There is a lot going on onstage," she said. "We’re carrying around a horn section and background singers and everyone is in coordinating outfits."
In addition to selected songs off the new album, McBride and company will perform her hits that have been reworked to fit the new sound.
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"This is the most fun show that I have done in many years," she said. "I’m super excited to have people come see it."
The excitement actually began nearly two years ago when she came up with the idea for "Everlasting."
"I wanted to do a throwback to when people weren’t so hung up on genres," McBride explained. "I mean [back then] you could hear Patsy Cline on pop stations and Ray Charles would make a country record and everyone was covering everyone else’s songs. It was a much sweeter time.
"How can you categorize people like Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis," she said. "I mean, they’re gospel, R&B, they’re rock, they’re country or a little bit of everything. And that appealed to me."
Looking around at the country-music business, McBride felt the decision for the new record was coming at the right time.
"It wasn’t a cavalier decision," she said. "I wanted to make a record and the landscape of what is going on with country music right now isn’t me.
"I’m not able to do that bro-country thing," she said with a laugh. "So what do I do. Do I sit around and wait for the next trend or do I make a record? This made sense to me at this time to dive into a musical project without worrying about singles or sales."
McBride said venturing into cover songs wasn’t new to her. She did it once before with her 2005 album, "Timeless," which was a collection of classic country songs by Hank Snow, Eddie Arnold, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, to name a few.
"I just made that record for the joy of it," McBride said. "And like that one, the new one was a joyful experience."
Still, the song-selection process took some time.
"It was long, fun and a bit daunting, because the amount of songs we looked at was vast," McBride said. "I worked about seven months with an artist and repertoire person from New York who did the heavy work. He would send me lists of ideas."
Some of the songs on "Everlasting" were on the list from day one and some prompted ideas for others.
"It was a process of finding what fit together and finding ones that I felt I could sing well and make my own," McBride said. "It was like a treasure hunt. I mean, I could make 40 records of this music because there are so many great songs."
To guide her through the recording sessions, McBride hired Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was, whom she worked with briefly when she sang a duet with Bob Seger on the song "Chances Are" from the "Hope Floats" soundtrack.
"I hadn’t had a lot of contact with him since, but I was thinking about producers and he popped into my head," she said. "I went to L.A. and met with him and talked about the record."
Was, the head of Blue Note Records and an in-demand producer, sat and talked with McBride about the project.
"He needed to make sure it was a project he wanted to do and that I wasn’t some scattered artist who didn’t know what I wanted to do," McBride said, laughing. "At the end of the meeting, he told me he wanted to do the record."
McBride liked Was’s approach.
"He’s such a beautiful person as well as a great producer," she said. "He’s very wise, sweet and so talented. And his approach is organic and honest. I would work with him again in a heartbeat."
Recording "Endless" reminded McBride why she fell in love with music in the first place.
"My dad was really knowledgeable about country music — everyone from Jimmie Rogers to Hank Williams to Waylon Jennings and Hank Snow," she said. "I had a great education in great country music, but my parents also listened to Ray Charles and Etta James."
McBride’s mother was always singing around the house.
"She would do ‘Summertime’ and other classic pop songs from her era," McBride said.
When Vinyl Recordings released "Everlasting" in April, McBride became the first, solo-female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart with an independently released and distributed album in the chart’s 50-year history.
"When I started working on the album, many people probably thought I had lost my mind," she said with another laugh. "Then to not have a single as a drive for sales was another thing that concerned people. So to have this success is a testament to my fans.
They will come buy the album and follow me on this journey."
The St. Regis Big Stars Bright Nights Concert Series will present award-winning country singer Martina McBride at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Amphitheater on Thursday, July 3, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $85 and are available by calling 435-655-3114 or visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org.