A mainstream country star coming out in support of the LGBT community is almost unheard of. But down-home diva Martina McBride, who performs with Trace Adkins at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, followed queer-loving contemporaries Dolly Parton and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks when she declared in a controversial Out.com interview last year – her first time publicly speaking on gay issues – that “we should all be tolerant of each other and embrace each other’s strengths and differences and uniqueness and beauty.”
Since the Kansas-born singer’s career-making cut “Independence Day” was released in the mid-’90s, McBride’s bravely confronted topics many country stars of her caliber won’t: domestic abuse, poverty, suicide and, on “Concrete Angel,” the unfathomable death of a child. Her 2003 song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” hints toward her belief in an “everyone’s equal” world. And she expounded on that during the interview, adding that she’d be down with an out country star and that she’d even consider writing a song about gay rights.
Imagine the uproar the Q-and-A caused. Actually, you don’t have to. Hundreds of comments flooded a news blurb written about the Out story on The Boot, an AOL-produced country Web site, which either praised or condemned McBride, quoting Biblical passages and declaring that they’d never again buy one of her albums. She was called a classy lady (right on!) and “Martina McMoron” (lame!).
In doing the interview last year, around the release of her 10th studio album “Shine,” it’s clear that she may have polarized her fan base like the Dixie Chicks did when Maines boldly spoke against the Republican majority. Like Maines, McBride didn’t seem to care.
“I just have to do what’s right for me,” she declared.
No matter what the cost was in fans (if much at all, considering the interview earned her plenty of new ones), she ultimately made stronger bonds with the loyal bunch who rightly believes talent trumps values. And that, McBride still has in a colossal belting voice that can break through the heavens. How cool, too, that she used it for something other than singing.
Martina McBride and Trace Adkins
‘Shine All Night Tour’
7:30 p.m. Feb. 18
Palace of Auburn Hills