At home with Martina

by Alison Bonaguro
Special to the Tribune
Published April 13, 2007


Martina McBride wants you to feel at home at her show Friday. More precisely, in her living room. "No matter how many trucks and buses you have, no matter how big the lights are, it comes down to a connection with [the] audience," the 40-year-old McBride said. "You want everyone to feel like they're in your living room."

If anyone can pull that off, McBride's a good bet. Because while her much-heralded career has given her diva credibility, her concerts make her seem more like one of the girls. With ramps that bring her out into the audience, her living-room aspirations may come to life during her Rosemont Theatre shows Friday and Sunday.

That brand of live music is a long way from the first concerts McBride saw. "My first concert was Ozzy Osbourne, then Loverboy, Joan Jett and REO [Speedwagon]," said McBride. "I was a teenager what can I say?"

The grownup McBride is likely to showcase her ballads, anthems and songs of survival. "For people who have been through something hard, it's empowering to hear somebody singing about it," McBride said. She talked about how "Independence Day" inspired women to leave abusive relationships. "You hear a song on the radio and it makes you pack and leave? That's the power of music."

And this time, that powerful music is coming from McBride's own pen. Her just-released "Waking Up Laughing" album has three songs McBride co-wrote with singer-songwriters The Warren Brothers. Brett Warren said that working with McBride was a direct route to success.

"When you write a song, you have to get it past A&R, then management, then the artist," said Warren. "Instead of missing a cut, we were better off writing with Martina. We finally got to write with an artist who totally got it."

She certainly gets the pop cultural side of success as well, as she'll be seen in mentoring and performing roles on the April 18 edition of "American Idol."

While she's in town, McBride hopes to find a little time for girl stuff. "I love Chicago shopping. Like Faded Rose on Armitage, and Anthropologie," she said. But she does feel pressure to put on big show. "I want to make it worth a fan's time to hire a baby-sitter."

Copyright 2006, Chicago Tribune