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Love of Pala fans causes Martina McBride to choose grand finale over early exit

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Sept. 11 concert at Pala Casino's Starlight Theater was the last for Martina McBride on that trip. She and her band returned to Nashville and will next perform Sept. 30 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. McBride chose to make her Pala concert a grand finale rather than a preparation for an early exit.

"We have a 33-hour bus ride home," McBride said. "Nobody is in a hurry to do that."

A couple of factors caused McBride and her band with seven other musicians to treat the Pala concert as a grand finale rather than being ready to leave. One is the significance of the final night of a concert tour. "The two most important nights of the tour are the first night and the last night," she said.

"We always have such huge memories of our last night on tour," McBride said near the end of the concert. "We've made this amazing memory, you and I."

McBride and her band performed 19 songs during her 90-minute concert, giving the Pala audience significant memories. Pala's outdoor theater setting also isn't a place which is conducive to McBride wanting to leave. "It's gorgeous here," she said. "I was kind of taken aback when I was looking out here."

Perhaps the most important reason McBride gave the Pala audience her best rather than an indication she was ready to return home was noted not in her comments about the show but in the comments she made prior to a couple of songs when she explained that they were about unconditional love. It was thus perhaps appropriate that McBride began her Pala concert with "My Baby Loves Me."

McBride's song "Independence Day," which she sang prior to her two encore numbers, doesn't fit the theme of unconditional love. It also is far from autobiographical. She sang with her father, who is now 83, during her childhood, and when her father recorded an album last year McBride was one of the collaborators.

"He just gave me this rich education in classic country music," McBride said.

McBride was raised in a Kansas town of 180 people and was one of 10 students in her high school graduating class. "I graduated in the top 10 in my class," she said.

That was as close to self-promotion as she got during the concert. "My whole career has been built on great songs from great songwriters," she said.

McBride did specify her objective. "A song can take you right back, make you feel like you were there," she said. "I'm so blessed that I get to be just a vessel."

Three daughters, who are now 27, 24, and 17, have given McBride experience in unconditional love. "It's not easy raising girls today," she said. "But it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done."

Being relegated to virtual concerts after the coronavirus outbreak has also given McBride a greater appreciation of an actual audience. "A live concert is so great. I think we appreciate it so much more now," she said. "There is just this amazing energy and love."

The love was on both sides Sept. 11. McBride's love for her fans and for performing took precedence over any immediate desire to return home.


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