July 29: country music singer and songwriter Martina McBride is 45-years-old today.

Born Martina Mariea Schiff in Sharon, Kansas - a small town with population of about 200 - McBride has been called the "Céline Dion of Country Music."

Her father, who was a farmer and cabinetry shop owner, exposed McBride to country music at a young age. Before she turned 10, she began singing with a band her father fronted, "The Schiffters."

As she grew older her role in the band progressively increased, from simply singing, to also playing keyboard with them. She began performing with a local rock band, The Penetrators, in Wichita. in 1987, Schiff gathered a group of musicians called Lotus and started looking for rehearsal space; she began renting space from a studio engineer named John McBride. In 1988, the two married.

The couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1989 with the hope of beginning a career in country music. John McBride joined Garth Brooks' sound crew and later became his concert production manager. Martina occasionally joined her husband on the road and helped sell Garth Brooks souvenirs.

Impressed by Martina's enthusiasm, in 1990 Brooks offered her the position of his opening act provided she could obtain a recording contract. During this time, while her husband was working with country artists Charlie Daniels and Ricky Van Shelton, he also helped produce her demo tape, which helped her gain a recording contract with RCA Nashville Records in 1991.

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After signing, McBride released her debut studio album in 1992 titled The Time Has Come. The album's title track made number 23 on the country music charts, but the next two singles both failed to make top 40. Unlike her later country pop-influenced albums, The Time Has Come featured honky tonk and country folk influences.

The Way That I Am was McBride's second album. Its first two singles both brought her into the country top ten: "My Baby Loves Me" peaked at number two, and "Life #9" at number six. The third single, "Independence Day," This song did not reach top 10 because many radio programmers objected to the song's subject of a mother fighting back against abuse by burning the family home to the ground. "Independence Day" won Video of the Year and Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.

In 1997, when she released her fourth album, Evolution, she broke through into the country music industry with a new pop-styled crossover sound, similar to that of Faith Hill and Shania Twain. From that point on, McBride has had a string of major hit singles on the Billboard country chart and occasionally on the adult contemporary chart. Five of these singles went to No. 1 on the country chart between 1995 and 2001, and one peaked at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart in 2003.
McBride has recorded a total of nine studio albums, one "greatest hits" compilation, one "live" album, a "Christmas" compilation, as well as two additional compilation albums. Seven of her studio albums and two of her compilations have received an RIAA certification of "Gold," or higher.

Worldwide, she has sold over 18 million albums. In addition, Martina has won the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" award four times (tied with Reba McEntire for the most wins) and the Academy of Country Music's "Top Female Vocalist" award three times.
McBride left RCA in November 2010, signed with Republic Nashville, and began working on a new studio album with producer Byron Gallimore. Her first single for Republic Nashville is "Teenage Daughters," which she also co-wrote with the Warren Brothers. McBride co-wrote eight of the eleven songs on the album.

The second single released from the album is titled "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" which became available July 25, 2011. An album track, "One Time" was released as a promotion for Nascar with a music video in June 2011. The album is projected to be released on October 18, 2011.

On February 13, 2011, McBride paid tribute to Aretha Franklin during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. She was joined onstage by Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Florence Welch and Yolanda Adams.



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