Powerful, yet healing.
That’s how critics describe the voice of country superstar Martina McBride, who will perform in Park City on Thursday, July 3, as part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series.
The show will feature hits from McBride’s 12th studio album, “Everlasting,” which was released in April and debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. The album features covers of soul and R&B songs and includes duets with Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw. (The latter co-headlines a concert with Matt Nathanson on Sunday, June 29, at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City.)
“This whole tour is based around the record,” McBride said during a telephone interview from her home in Nashville. “We have a four-piece horn section, a three piece vocal section, matching suits and moves. I really wanted it to be a visual and musical experience.”
McBride, who has had six No. 1 hits, received 14 Grammy nominations and has been named the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year four times, promised favorites, too.
“It’s a two-hour-plus show with a lot of music,” she said. “I just want people to escape for a couple hours and enjoy what they are seeing and hearing.”
The 47-year-old singer, who last came to Salt Lake City in January 2013 to open for George Strait, answered questions about her new album and one of her timeless hits.
What made you want to remake those classic R&B songs?
I really had a desire to do something different, to stretch as a musician and an artist. A few years ago I recorded “Timeless,” which was covers of classic country songs. With “Everlasting,” I wasn’t going in thinking “single on the radio.” I was going in to make music for fun. I researched for seven or eight months and narrowed it down to 25 songs, ultimately choosing 12 that fit my voice. I really wanted the album to be a listening experience, something you could listen to from beginning to end. That’s not something people do anymore, listen to a whole album.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, a first for a solo female artist. How did that make you feel, since it was released on your independent label?
It made me realize I have really great fans. But the big thing is that it got no radio air play. Usually you put out a single to drive the record, but this was a No. 1 without a top 10 single.
People like to pigeonhole artists into a certain genre. Were fans surprised to learn you were putting together an R&B album?
I had people tell me, “You’ve earned the right” to make it. I didn’t know I had to ask permission. The great thing is it takes you back in time to when music wasn’t so strictly defined. Ray Charles had an amazing country record. Patsy Cline did pop. Everyone was covering everyone else’s songs. It’s not a grand departure, it’s all music. And in some ways it is more country than what’s on the radio now anyway.
One of the most upbeat songs on the album is “In the Basement” with Kelly Clarkson. How did that duet come about?
I think she’s a really soulful singer and I thought her voice would really lend itself to that song. We had met and performed a few times together and her personality seemed like a good fit.
What about working with Gavin DeGraw on “Bring It On Home to Me”?
He had a song called “Soldier” that in a way inspired this record. After I listened to it I said, “I want to make a record like that one day.” Usually with a duet it’s just instinct. You think of someone who fits a style and Gavin is really a great singer and I love his voice.
Since it’s almost July Fourth, let’s talk about your 1994 hit single “Independence Day,” about domestic violence. When you think about that song today, what comes to mind?
That song is hugely important to me. It got people’s attention and moved me to be active and proactive and talk about domestic violence and awareness. And it’s still a song I look forward to singing in the show. It means different things to different people, but I had always hoped to have a song that would stand the test of time and get played for many years. And that seems to be one of them.
Martina McBride: Everlasting Tour
P The country superstar performs as part of the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights concert series
When • Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where • Deer Valley Resort’s Snowpark Amphitheater, 2250 Deer Valley Drive, Park City
Tickets • Lawn seating, $45; reserved seating, $65-$85; tickets.ecclescenter.org