Martina McBride

Martina McBride is heading to Anniston to open the Knox Concert Series season on Thursday. She’s been in the music business for more than two decades, has sold more than 18 million albums, earned 15 major music awards, been an advocate against domestic violence and, in between all of that, created a viral tomato movement. The Star talked with McBride about her upcoming album, tinkering with soul music and keeping her fans on their toes.

So, if anyone checks out your social media feeds — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — they’re going to see a lot of people wearing shirts that say "Tomato" and "Tomato Lover." What does it mean? It’s like you’ve created a movement!

Oh, I don’t know if I’ve created a movement! I just posted a comment on Facebook about a comment that a radio DJ made, saying that females don’t like to hear other females on the radio, and that men are like the lettuce and that women are like the tomatoes in the salad.

I just posted [and asked my followers], "Is this how you feel, do you not want to hear other females on the radio?" And it kind of blew up. People were like, "Of course I want to hear other females on the radio! Who is this guy to tell us what we want to hear and what we don’t want to hear?"

You are known as a country singer, but you have made it a point to keep your work diversified. Your latest album, "Everlasting," is filled with R&B and soul music covers.

I love to sing all kinds of music, and I was just moved to try to do something a little bit different. It’s about being open to the possibilities and to ideas and finding inspiration and creativity whenever you can — other artists and my family and just life! You know, I think you have to look for it everywhere.

Last fall, you released a book on cooking and entertaining, called "Around the Table."

I always just try to look for new opportunities and things that true to who I am, and I love to cook and have people over and entertain. That idea came out of wanting to write a book that really made it easy for people, because I feel like it can be overwhelming to have people in your home, and we’re all busy, and nobody has time to spend all day in the kitchen preparing a dinner.

You’re currently in the studio working on a new album. Is it more "classic Martina," or is it a different sound altogether?

I think it’s more classic-sounding. We’re just about halfway done with it. It reminds me a little bit of "Evolution" and of "Wild Angels" — more of a rootsy sound. I’m really not rushing the process. I don’t have a deadline … my label is really cool about that.

What’s a Martina show like?

This show is a little different than anything I’ve done before. When I made the "Everlasting" recording, I decided that I really wanted to build a whole tour around it.

So instead of just plopping a couple of songs into the middle of the set, I have four horn players out with me, I have an 11-piece band on stage, three background singers.

Everyone’s dressed in outfits that compliment each other. It’s very visual as well as very musical.

We do maybe five songs from "Everlasting," which are familiar to people, and then we do a lot of hits as well.

The whole point of being on stage to me is making a connection with people in the audience. That’s what I work to try to do every time, and I feel like the audience is so receptive to this show. Just pleasantly surprised — they don’t know what they’re seeing when they show up. They just think they’re going to see a regular Martina McBride show.

Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.