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Martina McBride Takes It Outside For A Change

Of the Oakland Press

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For Martina McBride and her family, the great outdoors means work rather than vacation this summer. The country singer notes that “I’ve never headlined an amphitheater tour before,” but she’s changing that tune with a 29-show trek through mostly outdoor venues that kicks off tonight at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

It’s a continuation of the tour supporting her gold-certified 2007 album, “Waking Up Laughing” and this year’s “Martina McBride: Live in Concert.”

“I’m really excited about this tour,” says McBride, 41, “because it feels like summer to me, to be outside playing these shows. I can remember going to concerts when I was a kid and it’s summertime and you’re outside and there’s just a different feel to it, a lot more freedom or something. “So I just want to have fun with this. I want to throw in some fun cover tunes and not make the show quite as regulated as what we’re used to doing, but just loosen up and have a lot of fun with it and just kind of a party atmosphere.”

McBride — who was born Martina Schiff in Kansas and now resides in Nashville with her husband, sound engineer John McBride, and their three daughters — will have the whole family on the road with her as well. “I think ultimately they really look forward to it,” she says, although she acknowledges the older girls, 13-year-old Delaney and 10-year-old Emma, “want to hang out with their friends a little more.”

“One of my girls got invited on a trip with her friend’s family, but she can’t go ’cause we’re on the West Coast at that time,” says McBride, whose youngest daughter, Ava Rose, is three. “I wasn’t the most popular mom during that decision.

“But I think they enjoy it. I’ve had the same band and crew for a really long time, so it’s kind of like family out there. And as the girls have become more self-sufficient, it’s become a lot more fun, too.”

McBride will have more than family and fans to occupy her thoughts on the road, however. She recently put the finishing touches on her ninth studio album, which she co-produced with Dann Huff and plans to release in the fall. Decisions are still being made about the title, artwork, a first single and promotion and marketing plans, but she’s confident that fans who have scooped up more than 16 million copies of her previous releases will enjoy this one, too.

“It’s not a radical departure,” says McBride, who co-wrote one song for the album. “I think it’s fresh; it’s not the same-old, same-old, but it’s not something where people will go, ‘What’s she doing? Has she lost her mind?’”

It does, however, come with great expectations — the kind generated by eight platinum-or-better albums during her 16-year recording career, 30 singles on Billboard’s country charts and a couple shelves’ worth of Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards. Nevertheless, McBride says she still feels like “a contender,” rather than an established star in her field.

“I feel like I still have so much to make and so much to do,” she said. “I have some experience under my belt, have some longevity. I’ve proven myself, and I still love it and it’s never exciting to me and it never gets old and it’s awesome. It’s a good place to be.”

Martina McBride, Jack Ingram and Chris Young perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (July 11) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $82.75 and $49.50 pavilion, $25 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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