"Well she just lit up the sky that 4th of July/ by the time the firemen had come/ they just put of the flames/ and took down some names/ and send me to the county home/ now I ain't saying it's right or it's wrong/ but maybe it's the only way/ talk about your revolution/ it's Independence Day." - Independence Day - Gretchen Peters.

When Martina McBride grew up near tiny Kansas town Sharon her grandmother stitched her dresses and sewed patches on her jeans to make them last.

But after breaking into country music as a tee shirt vendor and support for superstar Garth Brooks she took legal action to prevent being exposed on the internet without a stitch.

Ms McBride and peers including Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill and Mindy McCready - former fiancee of Superman TV actor Dean Cain - were illegally linked to a porn site.

"That was done to about 100 different country artists who were targeted by this guy," Martina told Nu Country in a call from Nashville.

"He somehow paid for our names and used them on his porn site. He was taking advantage of anyone who was surfing the Internet - anyone searching for Martina McBride would be drawn to his porn site. It's been resolved - he's not able to do it anymore."

Instead Ms McBride, then 31 and mother of two, displayed her visual charms through a brace of award winning videos, appearances here on the Midday Show and a role in super soapie Baywatch.

Martina topped U.S. charts with Safe In The Arms Of Love, Broken Wing, Heart Trouble, Valentine, Wild Angels and Gretchen Peters multi-award winning domestic violence chiller, Independence Day.


"I'm rolling out of Bakersfield/ my own private hell on wheels/ but this time I'm gone for good/ and I've never gone this far before/ beyond the slamming of the back screen door/ but you never loved me like you should." - Cry On The Shoulder Of The Road - Matraca Berg-Tim Krekel.

Ironically, she landed the Baywatch role shortly after releasing the first of her four albums in 1992.

"I made that six years ago but now they keep showing it over and over again," Martina explained, "I did a show with Ricky Van Shelton and was portrayed as a struggling young country singer, which I was at the time. I did my scenes with Pamela Lee who was Pamela Anderson then."

Martina's music career has since exploded but she won't follow Reba into regular acting roles despite a duet with veteran rocker Bob Seger for the new movie Hope Floats.

"Producer Don Was put Bob and I together and I was thrilled to sing on it," Martina revealed, "it was the first duet Bob had done with anyone. It was a big honour."

Since Martina released her first album, The Time Has Come in 1992, she has been in big demand as a duet singer.

Her collaboration with pianist Jim Brickman on Valentine topped adult contemporary charts and another with Texan troubadour Clint Black on Still Holding On hit No 1 on the country charts after being an integral part of the telemovie, Cadillac Jack Favor.

The song - co-written by Black (husband of actress Lisa Hartman) - was based on the true-life story of rodeo rider Jack Favor who was wrongly convicted and jailed for murder.

"Clint wrote it with Matraca Berg and Marty Stuart about the plight of the rodeo rider's wife who was still holding on despite him being jailed for life," Martina said.


McBride - who first recorded at the age of seven with her family band The Schifters - had to wait another 19 years for her solo deal.

But Martina, wife of Garth Brooks' production manager John McBride, landed it with a nifty piece of subterfuge.

"I labelled my demo tapes 'requested songs' and sent them to RCA," Martina confided.

"They hadn't heard of me but liked what they heard and signed me soon afterwards."

Martina met her husband, who was also production manager of Charlie Daniels and Ricky Van Shelton, when she was working in Wichita.

They wed on May 15, 1988, and moved to Nashville in January 1990.

Although the sultry soprano doesn't write songs she co-produces her albums and chooses music from assertive writers.

"I try to find strong women songs that portray women with dignity and respect," she says, "I won't do wimpy women songs, doormat songs, walked-on victim songs."

Martina caused a storm when her multi-award winning video of domestic violence melodrama, Independence Day, climaxed with the abused daughter - aged eight - burning down the marital home.

"Initially radio didn't warm to the theme for airplay but it became a big hit because CMT gave it a platform to which viewers - especially women - responded," Martina added.

"It was very controversial when I released it. When I first heard the song I knew I had to record it. It had to be said. I knew I couldn't not record it. I knew it needed to be said and would be helpful to a lot of people and something I was very passionate about it. The subject was taboo but now accepted. That video was very important to my career. I don't know if I'll ever top that video."


"I used to live in a darkened room/ had a face of stone/ and a heart of gloom/ lost my hope, I was so far gone/ crying all my tears with the curtains drawn/ I didn't know until my soul broke free/ I've got these angels watching over me." - Happy Girl - Annie Roboff-Beth Nielsen Chapman.

McBride's new hit Happy Girl - the fourth from her fourth album Evolution - was penned by Beth Nielsen Chapman in a post grief period after she nursed her late husband as he died from lymphoma.

"We thought the album was finished and Beth's song Happy Girl came in and I wanted to record it," Martina added.

"On first listen it sounds joyous and sparkling but when you listen closer the lyrics are much deeper and it's a song about hope. I gave it a Celtic feel."

Although Martina is a country singer she also tours with pop artists - on the recent Lilith Fair tour she worked with Sinhead O'Connor, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls and Sara McLachlan.

But she fondly recalls her days on the Schifter family wheat and cattle farm near Sharon (population 200) and 70 kilometres from the nearest city on the Oklahoma border.

Father Daryl - a wheat & cattle farmer & cabinet storeowner - fronted The Schifters family band and sang and played guitar.

Her mother was the sound mixer for the band in which an elder brother played steel and lead guitar.

Martina started on piano and sang soprano from the age of seven at weekends - also in the band was a younger brother Marty who now plays in her road band

"We didn't have television but we always had music in our home with The Schifters," recalls Martina.

"My grandmother sewed most of our clothes. She would take a piece of fabric and sew it on our jeans to make the legs longer and sewed patches on dresses. I wore glasses from kindergarten until I got contacts when I was 16. I had braces on my teeth for two and half years."

Now, Martina is so videogenic she has to sue to protect herself from porn purveyors on the net.

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