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Country mainstay McBride takes time to start over

This news story was published on February 22, 2012.
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By Kevin C. Johnson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch –

Country music veteran Martina McBride, 11 albums deep into her career, says she’s starting over. She’s representing this through her latest album, “Eleven.”

“I’m definitely surrounding myself with new energy and new ideas, and thinking outside the box musically and professionally,” says McBride.

One element of her starting over was recording “Eleven” on a different label, Republic Nashville, after her long, successful run with RCA Records.

“I was there for 18 years, and this was the first opportunity I had to pursue another record label,” McBride says. “I owed it to myself to look around and see what’s out there.”

McBride also says she got out of her comfort zone by delving deep into songwriting for the first time. It’s something she always wanted to do.

“I quit putting it off — quit procrastinating. I got all the kids in school and devoted time to see what happened if I dedicated myself to this,” says McBride, who as a result was able to come up with something more personal.

“It was liberating to be able to write what I’m feeling. The challenge is just getting over being intimidated. I’m the person who if I do something, I want to do it well.”

Her new freedom and confidence also led to a new album on which she was able to play around with different sounds. Though she clearly released a country music album, she also experimented a bit with R&B and island-flavored songs on “Eleven.” She also recorded outside Nashville for the first time.

With that, McBride says, she was able to “make music without the distraction of daily life.”

“I’m a mom first with three kids,” she says. “My business is here (in Nashville) as well as my friends. So it got to where I realized I was making music for a couple of hours a day. I wanted to be able to make music without the distractions of daily life — wake up and concentrate on nothing but making this album.”

She chose Atlanta as a temporary recording home because it wasn’t too far from Nashville.

“I didn’t want to be far from my family, and it was the closest studio I could find,” McBride says.

While McBride is busily promoting “Eleven,” her old record label did what all old record labels do when artists move on: RCA released “Hits and More” in January, three months after the release of “Eleven.”

The collection includes McBride staples such as “Independence Day,” “Wild Angels,” “Happy Girl” and “My Baby Loves Me.”

“I think ‘Independence Day’ is my favorite,” she says. “It’s my career song. It sustained me for a long time and is a high point of my show.”

Still, sometimes she feels she just hasn’t done enough musically.

“I listen to the records and I’d rather go remake them — do them better,” McBride says. “I also feel like I have so much more music to make. I want to leave behind a really good body of work. The best is yet to come.”

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