Over the years, Martina McBride has recorded plenty of poignant songs that make her fans cry, but on Saturday night (June 13) during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, she was the one shedding tears.
After a powerful rendition of "A Broken Wing" at LP Field, the singer nodded graciously as she waited for the applause to subside -- and waited ... and waited. After about a minute, everybody had risen to their feet, still clapping enthusiastically.
"Oh, my God. Thank you," she stammered. "You guys are going to make me cry! Stop it!"
Visibly choked up, she noted, "Ever since I was a little girl, this is all I ever wanted to do," then poignantly expressed her gratitude to the fans for a long career.
Earlier in her set, McBride offered a full-throttle vocal workout on "I Just Call You Mine," then toned it down just a notch for "Lean on Me." Of course, she closed the night with "Independence Day," a song that transitioned nicely into a booming fireworks show over the Nashville skyline. Her memorable performance capped a full evening of top-notch country music that included strong performances by Trace Adkins, Jason Michael Carroll, Jamey Johnson, the Judds, Josh Turner and Lee Ann Womack.
Adkins skipped his much-loved ballad, "You're Gonna Miss This," in favor of rowdier hits like "Ladies Love Country Boys," "Marry for Money" and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." He delivered his new single, "All I Ask for Anymore," with much gusto, and it looked like the Holy Spirit had grabbed hold of him during a sweaty, intense medley of "Muddy Water" and "Until I Reach Higher Ground."
Every artist on the bill would surely love to have a song as enduring as the Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge," and I enjoyed seeing the audience members older than 35 standing up and singing along with the mother-daughter duo who can still get the cameras flashing. They also sang portions of "Mama He's Crazy," "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)" and "Why Not Me."
Prior to that, Wynonna stepped out for feisty versions of "No One Else on Earth," "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good" and her Oprah anthem, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." By the response she received for the inspirational ballad, "I Can Only Imagine," you would have thought it was a hit single -- and it probably could have been.
Womack closed her brief set with a cover song, as well, choosing a musical standard from her home state of Texas, "San Antonio Rose." She made it a point to say how happy she was that all the fans were there -- and in a moment of self-deprecation, she added glad that she was still there, too. Although she opened with "Little Past Little Rock," she mostly stuck to newer songs like "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," "Last Call" (strumming along on guitar) and "Solitary Thinking."
Just prior to Womack's set, Carroll provided an acoustic performance, and the reaction signaled that "Livin' Our Love Song" is a strong favorite among fans.
Wearing a Willie Nelson T-shirt, Johnson rolled through a couple of tunes, including the still-relevant George Jones classic, "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," before connecting with his own hit, "In Color." The fans pulled out their glowing cell phones and fervently sang along. If you looked quickly, you could have actually seen Johnson smile.
Turner launched the festivities with "Firecracker," then forged ahead with "Your Man," "Everything Is Fine," "Long Black Train" and "Would You Go With Me." His traditional approach set the tone for an exceptional -- and sometimes emotional -- evening of country music.
View photos from Saturday night's concert.