She's back and better than ever

Martina McBride attends the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.
John Shearer

Country music star Martina McBride is currently on the road for her Love Unleashed Tour, but, as the saying goes, it certainly isn't her first rodeo. The 50-year-old singer has been writing hit songs for almost three decades. She has inspired some of today's biggest country stars, including Carrie Underwood, who famously covered "Independence Day" on American Idol. (And please tell us you've heard her 14-year-old rendition of "A Broken Wing"—you'll be blown away.)

After a five-year hiatus from country music, McBride is back in the saddle, recently performing some of her new hits at Rolling Stone Country's Live Nashville event last month. After the show, McBride sat down with the magazine to chat about maintaining her relevance as a female songwriter in an industry that has embraced a new and very different type of musician from years past.

"Songwriting has changed because for the past few years there has been a formula at country radio. ‘Bro country,' or whatever you want to call it, but there is a formula definitely," she said. "Songwriters have to make a living and they write songs for the formula. But it's taking a turn again back to—I don't want to say real songs—because they are real songs, but toward songs that are more lyrics-based and touch on human emotions and human stories, and are not quite so one-dimensional."

For the Rolling Stone event, McBride revived her soul band as a throwback to the music she grew up listening to, which included artists like Ray Charles and Etta James. Not only did she sing some of her celebrated classics like "Wild Angels," but she also treated fans to some of her newer material, including "Reckless."

McBride will be extending her Love Unleashed Tour into 2017, and she's bringing along rising star Lauren Alaina in partnership with CMT's Next Women of Country initiative—an opportunity she felt was super important to be a part of.

"When women support each other, they're strong as a whole," she said. "And any woman who has a win, it's a win for all of us."