Martina McBride at Centre College. (Karen Sprinkle Photo)
By KAREN SPRINKLE, Contributing Writer
On a day when country music took two serious hits to the heart with the deaths of Troy Gentry and Don Williams, Martina McBride proved that the heart of country music will survive in her show at the Norton Center in Danville Friday.
In an age when many artists seem to have forgotten that music, especially country music, is, at its root, about the song and not so much about pyrotechnics and costume changes, Martina, backed by her long time band, simply stood in the spotlight and sang her heart out Friday night.
Mamadear, a Nashville trio comprised of Parker Broadway, Kelly Tillotson and Daniel Wlson, opened the show for Martina with a simple acoustic set backed with acoustic guitars, mandolin and great harmony vocals. Much of their approximate 30 minute set was self-penned songs with a few favorites such as The Eagles’ standard Take It Easy and part of Don MacLean’s American Pie sprinkled in for flavor.
After a brief intermission, the three microphones used by Mamadear were removed in the only change to the stage. As Martina’s longtime band began to play, a gauze curtain fell as Martina walked out on stage. Her show was a welcome journey through her extensive song catalog spanning a number of years (she wouldn’t divulge the number but urged us to “google” it) from one of her first chart-topping hits, My Baby Loves Me, to Love’s the Only House, Wild Angels, This One’s For the Girls, and When God Fearing Women Get the Blues to several songs from her newest album, Reckless.
Martina McBride (Karen Sprinkle Photo)
She joked that several years ago, when she was “very pregnant and bored,” she decided to do an album of songs that she loved that had been recorded by other artists. Martina shared two selections from Timeless, Help Me Make It Through the Night and Rose Garden, with an appreciative Danville audience. While McBride sings a variety of song styles, she is best known for her positive anthems, and received standing ovations for Anyway, A Broken Wing and Independence Day.
While her signature song, Independence Da,y ended her show, she returned with an encore of the Beatles’ standard All You Need is Love and her own We’ll Pick up Where We Left Off. Martina shared that her favorite thing about performing, even after all these years, is that she loves making a connection with people and feels that she wants us all to know each other a little better after the show than before the show started.
Martina noted that when she began this tour, aptly named the Love Unleashed tour, she was tired of the negativity in the news and wanted to bring a show full of positivity and free of negativity. She wanted to create a circle of love and positivity that flows between her as an artist and each of us in the audience and allows each of us to focus on the positive, thereby lifting each of us up.
Her self-described mission was definitely accomplished in Danville. After the show, McBride tweeted her thanks to a “lovely healing crowd in Danville” that made the tragic day a bit better.