OFFSTAGE: Martina McBride Kicks Off My Journey in Song

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I’ve been on a train for the last 24 hours. Actually, make that four trains. One from my house to Chicago, Chicago to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Chicago, and Chicago to my house. And it was not at all the exhausting, claustrophobic journey I thought it would be. I guess when you start said journey with a live Martina McBride concert in the vast and famous Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station — films such as The Untouchables and My Best Friend’s Wedding were shot there — it kind of gets your day off to a spectacular start.

McBride had stopped in Chicago on Wednesday (Oct. 12) morning to do a half-hour set of songs off her new album, Eleven, and to pick me up, along with others in the media. She kicked off the 9:30 a.m. show by singing “One Night” and then telling the crowd, “I have never sung at 9:30 in the morning before. I don’t know that I ever will again.” It wasn’t a full band show, but she did have two of her guitars players and her drummer (on the cajon, which is like a drum box that he sits on) backing her. McBride did another new one, “Whatcha Gonna Do,” which she said was her sassy song.

“It’s good to get a little sassy now and then. Now I’m gonna do my sexy song,” she said to introduce the bluesy “You Can Get Your Lovin’ Right Here.” McBride co-wrote it and said she liked doing so much writing on this album because it allowed her to show so much more of her personality. “And I have a fabulous personality,” she laughed.

She also co-wrote the next one, “Teenage Daughters,” which she told me later she loves because she’d wanted to write one with a “Me and Bobby McGee” feel to it. “Some of you may know this. I have three daughters. I have two teenage daughters. I have a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old, and I have a 6-year-old who might as well be a teenager. So you all know that it’s a beautiful journey, but some days are better than others. So I wrote this song straight out of my life about my girls,” she said before she started the tune about how it’s like it happened overnight and we’re always wrong, they’re always right.

Then came the show closer, and a big part of the reason so many breast cancer survivors and their families were there: “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.”

“As a woman and as a mother, as a daughter, sister, friend, a wife, it’s just really important to me that we raise awareness. It’s so important to have people around you who will love you through it,” she said. It’s a song she has also called heavy but hopeful. So while McBride is out on this coast-to-coast train ride raising awareness, it looked like she was also raising so much hope.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.