All Martina McBride wanted was a career that lasted 10 years.

She thought that was a fair amount of time to create a legacy in the world of country music and, of course, do what she loved. But perseverance, impactful song cuts and a loyal fanbase brought her to 25 years.

McBride is now celebrating her 25th year in music — a journey that began with her 1992 debut album, The Time Has Come. Behind the strength of songs like “Independence Day,” “Concrete Angel” and “A Broken Wing,” McBride became one of country music's hottest stars in the ’90s/early Millennium, citing more than 18 million albums sold and banking impressive hardware such as five CMA Awards, four ACM Awards and an American Music Award for Favorite Country Female Artist. She was also nominated for 14 Grammys.

The Kansas native has also released a staggering 12 albums, including her latest, Reckless in 2016. She’s in the midst of recording a Christmas album with legendary arranger Pat Williams that will arrive by the 2017 holiday season. Taste of Country talked to McBride about her long tenure in the music business, asking everything from her proudest moment onstage to her favorite junk food (hint: it’s pizza!).

ToC: How were you able to sustain a music career that spans decades?
Martina McBride: I think it comes down to the fans. If they hadn’t been interested, I wouldn’t have had a 25-year career. I have great fans and I think I was really lucky to find great songs and songs that made a difference in people’s lives. Songs like “Independence Day,” “Concrete Angel” and “A Broken Wing” and even “This One’s for the Girls.” … When you create something that people take ownership in and bring into their lives and attach meaning to, that’s big.

What was your proudest moment onstage?
It was really a big deal for me to sing on tour with George Strait. I got to come out and sing two songs with him every night and as a little girl from Kansas that grew up listening to his music, that was just beyond amazing. … Then one time I had this show, it was a long time ago in Louisiana, and I had no voice basically, but I still went out and tried to do the show. I just told the audience, it is what it is and it’s not going to be perfect but I really want to sing for y’all. I did “A Broken Wing” and got through it, but it was a struggle and the support (the fans) gave me was overwhelming and I’ll never forget it. It’s one of those moments I realized it’s not just me singing at people; we’re all kind of experiencing this together and invested in each other. It was a beautiful moment.

Name a song you passed on that you now wish you would’ve cut.
I think songs land where they’re supposed to for a reason, but I did have, early on, “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews. That was a song that I thought would’ve been really cool to do and I heard “Wild One” before Faith (Hill). I passed on that one, too and of course, that was a huge hit for her.

How have you protected your voice throughout your career?
I never used to sing around the house or in the car; I’d just sing onstage, but now I sing everyday. I work to make sure I’m singing in a way that protects my voice and I’m probably more knowledgeable about it now than I have been. So the past year, I’ve really been working hard at just making sure that my voice stays healthy and stays in shape. It’s a muscle and if you start using the muscle wrong, you start tensing up, all that kind of stuff. … It’s really just about keeping on top of how to sing correctly, which I was never taught how to do, to be honest. I just grew up singing, so I think as we get older, it’s important for everybody to be able to check in with someone to show you if you developed any bad habits or things that you need to work on.

How is your approach to recording different today than it was in your 1992 debut?
I know my way around the studio better. I’m a better producer now than when I started out; I was so green. Over the years, you develop a confidence and a sense of yourself and you’re able to take some risks, so it’s probably a much freer experience now. I’m not as worried or concerned about all the little minutia that goes into it. I’m really enjoying recording now more than ever.

Martina McBride: Still Bold, Still Reckless

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