The Real Martina
An intimate view of the superstar from the people who know her best.
Related to an article originally published in the June 4, 2007, issue of Country Weekly featuring Kenny Chesney on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.
In the June 4 issue of Country Weekly, you’ll find a funny, moving and revealing collection of thoughts about Martina McBride from the people closest to her—her husband, John; eldest daughters Emma and Delaney; and the business associates who work with Martina every day. Here, only on countryweekly.com, are a few exclusive outtakes from the article.
First, the Folks Involved
- TEE-CEE BAILEY, Production assistant, six years
- ALI BENNER, House manager, 12 years
- KATHY BEST, Publicist, six years
- ROB BULL, Sound engineer, 14 years
- MARY BETH FELTS, Makeup artist,15 years
- CLAUDIA FOWLER, Stylist,10 years
- MARK HIVELY, Tour manager, 14 years
- FRANK HUSSAR, Band tech
- MEESHA KOSCIOLEK, Road production manager
- DELANEY McBRIDE, Martina’s 12-year-old daughter
- EMMA McBRIDE, Martina’s 9-year-old daughter
- JOHN McBRIDE, Martina’s husband
- TRACY WEAVER, Director of fan relations
What do you know about Martina that might surprise her fans?
John McBride: It's funny, I sometimes wish Martina would just lose her self-censorship and talk like she does when we're together, because people would just fall for her head-over-heels. But then again, she is a very private person, and she values that.
Tracy Weaver: What you see and hear is what you get. It’s not an act. She is genuinely a really great human being. She loves her goofball husband, works around her kids’ schedules, appreciates her employees, knows she has the best fans in the business and is grateful to be doing what she is doing for a living.
Frank Hussar: I'm not sure, but I think Martina still drives her 1993 Honda sedan. I would guess she could drive just about any kind of car she wants to, but still likes that Honda.
Kathy Best: She doesn’t realize this, but she’s taught me a lot about decorating and shopping. For years she would tell me she did not like “at-home” photo shoots because her house wasn’t ready. It’s a very beautiful place, so I couldn’t agree with her, but I realized something: Martina doesn’t waste money just going out and buying anything and everything she would want, especially for her home. She carefully waits for just the right thing to put in a certain place, and doesn’t feel pressured to settle just to have it done. I’ve learned that it’s better to wait on the perfect thing than waste money on something not quite right just to fill the space.
How would you describe Martina for someone who didn’t know her?
Frank Hussar: Someone who is driven only to be true to what she believes to be best for her family and for herself, but certainly never consumed by herself. Martina is somehow able to be Mom, wife, professional and singing superstar at the same time, seamlessly.
Ali Benner: She’s down to earth, does not sweat the small stuff.
John McBride: I always say that Martina is as real as the day is long. She is a total class act, very intelligent, with talent like I have never seen. Also, her priorities are definitely in the right place. Taking care of our girls is number one on the list, and I love and respect her for that. She was raising kids on the road and balancing that part of her life way before all the supermodels and actresses were doing it and magazines were writing articles about how cool they are.
The whole family usually goes on the road with Martina. Which tour stop has been most enjoyable for the kids?
John McBride: They love swimming and amusement parks—this year we went to an island for Spring Break and then spent a day and a half at Disney World in Florida. That was their highlight for this year so far. Anytime they have fun, we all have fun.
How would you describe an average day in the McBride household, when you’re not on tour?
John McBride: Delaney is the earliest riser. Then everyone else gets up, and I am usually the last one up. I need to work on that! Breakfast is pretty informal at our house. After breakfast, things get going and there always seems to be a lot of noise—kids yelling, TV on, dog barking, phones ringing, doors slamming, etc. We all have fun and are not shy around our house. The kids will sometimes have friends over for swimming or whatever. I usually make it to the studio every day [John owns Blackbird Studio in Nashville] and end up taking any number of kids with me. Martina does laundry, answers e-mail, and loves to putter around the house. She cooks dinner every night and makes lunches on weekends if we are in town. We sit down to dinner, say grace, and talk, talk, talk. We all clear the table and Martina and I usually split the cleanup, although I try to do more of it because she works hard cooking the dinner. Thus, it is only fair that I do the cleanup. A good way to summarize life at our house is, "Never a dull moment!"
How does Martina compare to other bosses you’ve had?
Mary Beth Felts: Martina has been and continues to be one of my favorite clients. She's collaborative, funny, caring and compassionate.
Meesha Kosciolek: Well, to be truthful, this is my first gig! But I wouldn't want to work for any other.
Ali Benner: First off, this does not feel like a job with a boss. To compare her, she is balanced, realistic, and understanding. This is more of an adventure than a job.
Does Martina have a good sense of humor?
Kathy Best: Martina has a great sense of humor, and she’s very witty. I’ve gotten some great e-mails from her late at night when she has time to breathe and say how she really feels—especially after a glass of wine!
John McBride: She made me laugh earlier tonight when she was playing with Ava. They have a bunch of different games they play, and she gets Ava laughing uncontrollably. The kids all have a great sense of humor too, thank God!
What is the funniest thing that’s happened to you with Martina?
Ali Benner: When I had my last child, there I was in the labor room and Martina was my coach. I was in the middle of contractions and moaning and groaning and the anesthesiologist asked her for an autograph!
What is your favorite Martina song?
Emma McBride: “How I Feel.” I love the happy vibe.
Mark Hively: “When You Are Old.” Every time I hear it, it makes me think of my wife.
Frank Hussar: Martina's voice captivates me every time I hear her sing, and there's something about “A Great Disguise” that I really like.
Tracy Weaver: Before working for Martina, I sang “There You Are” at every karaoke bar in Nashville!
Ali Benner: “If I Had Your Name” is such a strong message. I believe that everyone has come across someone like this.
Rob Bull: “When You Are Old” gives me something to strive for in my family: that no matter what I do or where I am, I will be there for them.
Kathy Best: My family was hit by a tornado last year, and we had to do some major rebuilding. My son thinks she wrote “Anyway” just for us, when it says You can spend your whole life building something from nothing/One storm can come along and blow it all away.
Mary Beth Felts: “Independence Day” inspired many women to speak out or even to get out of abusive situations. It's a powerful testimony to the power of a song.
What is Martina’s best attribute?
Meesha Kosciolek: Intelligence.
Claudia Fowler: Her best attribute is her loyalty.
Kathy Best: She sticks by the people who work with her, and it makes you want to always do more because of it.
Mark Hively: Just how she is able to juggle her career and family and everything else. Trust me, I've seen it for the last 14 years.
Tee-Cee Bailey: Her ability to stay real and grounded during 15 years of success.
Tracy Weaver: Her character. I think it’s rare to find this, not only in the entertainment business, but in any business. Because of her sincerity and her unwillingness to compromise her values, I believe she will continue to be a big part of the music business for many, many years to come.