This is what country music was like 25 years ago when Martina McBride released her debut album The Time Has Come.
Essentially, country music was huge.
At the time, Clint Black, Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson were among the acts who were taking the genre to its highest commercial heights. Black’s rise to prominence was meteoric following the release of Killin’ Time. Back then, it was the most successful debut albums in country music history, selling more than three million copies and resulting in four No. 1 hits.
Jackson’s first two albums Here in the Real World and Don’t Rock the Jukebox were also multi-platinum sellers. This was before “Chattahoochee” hit in 1993.
Brooks was making history releasing the best-selling country albums of all time, No Fences and Ropin’ The Wind.
The dance boom in the early ’90s also contributed to country music’s overall popularity. At the time, MTV, TNN and CMT were the only places fans could watch videos and most of them had choreography fans wanted to know.
On May 30, 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” began its five-week reign at No. 1, ushering in an all-new country dance craze. Cyrus’ performance was first introduced in a video with line dance choreography by Melanie Greenwood. Similar videos and recordings followed, including Brooks’ “Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)” Tracy Byrd’s “Watermelon Crawl” and Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw.” Brooks & Dunn had “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and Mary Chapin Carpenter had “Down at the Twist and Shout,” as well.
But one of the biggest movements in ’90s country was the ascension of new female entertainers like McBride, Deana Carter, the Dixie Chicks, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Lorrie Morgan, LeAnn Rimes, Pam Tillis, Shania Twain, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood. Each rose to fame as independent stylists and the architects of their own careers at a time when female artists were starting to comment more freely on issues that were relevant to their lives. Occasionally their lyrics went beyond private or gender concerns to address bigger public problems. McBride’s “Independence Day” and “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks were among the hits that sang about domestic abuse. Reba McEntire’s 1994 ballad “She Thinks His Name Was John” warned of the dangers of AIDS.
And it’s safe to say that without them, we wouldn’t have Kelsea Ballerini, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift.
McBride, one of the genre’s greatest female voices, had been married to her husband John McBride for four years and they had only been living in Nashville for two when The Time Has Come was released in May, 1992. At the time, she was 26, had just made her Grand Ole Opry debut and was about to embark on her first national tour with Brooks. Before she signed with RCA in 1991, she found work as a demo singer on Music Row after gigging around her home state of Kansas for most of her life. Back then, John had been working as a soundman for artists like Brooks, Charlie Daniels and Ricky Van Shelton. For a young couple in their 20s, it was not a bad introduction into Nashville life.
Co-produced by Paul Worley and Ed Seay, The Time Has Come is steeped in the neo-traditional sound that made ’90s country so powerful, and the lyrics cut deep. The title track, a fierce breakup anthem about kicking a loser to the curb, peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. In “Cheap Whiskey,” alcohol is the cause of a man’s downfall. She sings of love in “Walk That Line,” “I Can’t Sleep” and “When You Are Old.” But it was her 1993 sophomore album The Way That I Am that broke her as a superstar act. The 10-song album featured her first string of hits “My Baby Loves Me,” “Independence Day” and “Life #9.” Wild Angels followed with the No. 1 hit title track and “Safe In The Arms Of Love.”
Throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s, McBride continued release massive hits like “Broken Wing,” “This One’s For the Girls,” “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” “When God-Fearin’ Women Get The Blues” and “Blessed,” most of which celebrated family and offered a slight pro-women slant.
She paid tribute to country classics and soul hits with 2005’s Timeless and 2014’s Everlasting, respectively. Her 13th studio album Reckless was released in 2016, and she is currently in the studio recording a new holiday compilation.
Having sold more than 18 million albums over the course of her career, her music has touched the lives of many.
Here is a video chronology of her biggest hits.