Martina Makes Music City Magic

The Ryman Auditorium is magnificent in both history and structure, but the 2,000-plus seat venue felt as intimate as a supper club when Martina McBride and her band took the stage Friday night (Sept. 28).

Performing songs from her current album, Eleven, along with classic hits and a few surprise covers, Martina displayed her uncanny ability to wrap that very large voice around everyone in the room, drawing them to the front of the stage no matter where their seats were. She kicked off her set with Eleven's opening track, "One Night," which was tailor-made for live performance, then rolled right into the mega-smash "Wild Angels."

Country music fans are well aware of the tremendous vocal power that Martina posesses. She and Carrie Underwood are, arguably, the most talented female vocalists in the format. But what some may not realize is Martina's quick sense of humor. At her first pause, Martina gestured to the stage manager, saying, "I'm gonna take these off," referring to her ear monitors. A catcall from a male fan had her quickly retort, "Hey, this is a concert, not a dream," eliciting a roar of laughter from the crowd. With that the bar was set for the rest of the evening.

Between hits including "Blessed," "I Love You" and "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," Martina engaged the audience with conversation and took a few requests: "'O Holy Night'? It's not even Halloween!" She also brought up a 13-year-old girl who asked if she could sing with the country star. When the tween began to wail on the recent hit "Anyway," Martina took a seat on the drum riser to enjoy the show.

After more than two dozen songs and a couple of encores, Martina left the historic stage. And fans left wanting more.

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