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Female Friday: Martina McBride

McBride is working on a special project with Country Crock to help farmers!

Written by Cillea Houghton
Female Friday: Martina McBride
Photo courtesy of Martina McBride

Martina McBride is a country legend, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped finding ways to grow. The powerhouse singer has partnered with Country Crock to support a soil sustainability project in her home state of Kansas, all while prepping for her 2021 tour and an upcoming exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

McBride took time out of her busy schedule to chat with Sounds Like Nashville for the latest installment of Female Friday where she reflects upon her CMHOF exhibit, how growing up in a farming family prepared her for the music industry and the most valuable lessons she’s learned amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Cover Crops Project is an amazing initiative that you’re a part of. Tell me about the inspiration behind this project and how you got involved.

I grew up in Kansas on a farm. I’m a daughter of a third generation farmer, and so I have a lot of affinity for farmers and I understand farming and the challenges that come with it. I’m also a mom of three, so I’m really interested in the sustainability of food. That’s important to me, and Country Crock is from Kansas as well, they’re based in Kansas and they depend on farmers for what they do. They started the Cover Crops Project and they’ve chosen me to get the word out about what that is. Cover crops are crops that are planted in between cash crops. The benefit of cover crops is that they help the long-term health of the soil, so they protect it between planting seasons. Cover crops help prevent soil erosion, they put nutrients back into the soil, they suppress weeds. It’s a great way to keep the soil healthy for the farmers and for the crop. They’re committed to helping 80 farmers in Kansas and plant [13,000] acres of cover crops, really educating farmers about what cover crops do and how they can help. I’m happy to be part of something that is so good for the earth and also near to my heart as a farm girl.

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned about farming and how did they connect to real life?

It’s hard work, so I was brought up with a strong work ethic. I saw my grandpa and my dad get up and go out and work on the farm every single day. It’s also unpredictable, it’s not a safe choice of career. It’s very dependent on the weather and all kinds of nature, all kinds of things, so you have to have a passion for it, you have to have a love for it. It has to be in your blood. Growing up in a rural farming community, I saw the farmers are a tight knit group. Everybody’s very proud of how they farm and techniques that have been handed down for generations. So all of that – a passion, work ethic, taking a risk – all that I think definitely impacted the way I see life. It kind of prepped me for this industry.

Switching gears, how does it feel to know that you’re going to have an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame?

It’s amazing, it’s definitely been on my bucket list. I’ve been able to do so many things, I’m so grateful, but really having an exhibit in the Hall of Fame is one thing that was on the list, so it’s just an honor. There are so many great country artists, so the fact that they sat down and had a meeting and chose me to have an exhibit, it’s an honor, and I’m really excited about putting together a great exhibit for fans to come and see from all over the world. I’ve been singing since I was three or four years old, so I want to encompass my whole life. I have memorabilia from when I was singing growing up and my mom has saved a bunch of stuff and my dad had a band when I was growing up, a cover band. In addition to being a farmer, he was a musician as well, and so a lot of stuff from my childhood and stuff from my early career, which I think is interesting to people. This is going to be a retrospective of my career.

Going through my closet and my garage, everywhere that I’ve stashed stuff, I think there’ll be at least a couple of clothing items, but also the stuff from my childhood as well. I went and saw an exhibit, I believe it was Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn, and there was her hairbrush, and for me as a fan, that was so much more important than seeing a gold record. It’s so personal, so I want to really put things in there that are personal.

Another thing the fans have to look forward to next year is the Livin’ Life Up Tour. What can fans expect from that tour and how has this year impacted your perception of live shows and how you handle them?

I think we all will not be taking them for granted anymore. I think it’s going to shape the way we tour and the way we communicate with an audience. I think we’ll all be so happy and feel so blessed to get back out on the road, not that we took it for granted to begin with, but it becomes a lifestyle, so you do kind of take for granted that you’re going to be out on tour every summer and you’re going to be going up and down the road in a tour bus and playing music for fans and connecting in that way. To have that taken away has really made it all the more precious.

What are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned this year and thinking about this time in the future, what do you think you’ll remember most?

I try to see the positive in it and the fact that I had all of my daughters and my family under one roof for a few months was really precious and important. Our time to settle and try to make sense of what was going on, but being together while we were doing it, was really important I think. I feel like there’s a lot to be learned from this time. I think learning to slow down and to really appreciate things and to listen to your inner voice and not try to crowd it out with so many things going on that we’re all so busy. So to have a break and not be so busy was a blessing in a way.

Is there anything else you would like to add or want people to know about anything else that you’re working on?

I have a new single out called “Girls Like Me.” This show called Songland on NBC, I was able to find this amazing song written by this up and coming songwriter named Halie. I recorded it during quarantine, which was challenging to say the least, but I was able to get it recorded and put it out. We were speaking earlier about songs and what they mean and messages, and for me, the song is so empowering because it really talks about how we’ve all been through things in our life. We’ve all made mistakes, we’ve all had heartache, we all feel insecurity now and then, and it just talks about how it’s going to be okay, which is a message that we all need to hang on to right now. It’s going to be okay, and that’s part of life, and sometimes those mistakes that we make make us stronger in the end or the things that we go through in life make us stronger, just like I think this time we’re going through now is going to make all of us stronger in some way or another. There’s a video out and it’s on the radio, it’s just exciting to have new music out.