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Martina McBride found 'Everlasting' to be rather 'intimidating'

Singer Martina McBride works with producer Don Was in the studio for her album 'Everlasting.'
Singer Martina McBride works with producer Don Was in the studio for her album 'Everlasting.'
Brian Totoro

As one of the most versatile singers around, Martina McBride continues to demonstrate her control and creative freedom on her newly released "Everlasting" set. Boasting 12 tracks, the songbird ebbs and flows with unparalleled ease, as if R&B were her home genre all along. Covering such iconic artists as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Etta James (among so many others), McBride did not shy away from modernizing those catalogs.

But don't be fooled. It was quite the undertaking. “When I was first thinking about making this record and finding songs that would fit my voice, I was a little bit overwhelmed," she says in this week's CMA Close-Up issue. "Tackling some of these songs was a bit intimidating."

She adds, noting the guidance from producer Don Was, "[He] helped me a lot. He said, ‘Just be you. Sing it how you would sing it.’ That was a liberating moment for me. I was like, ‘Oh! That makes sense!’”

During McBride and Was' first meeting to discuss direction, things "just clicked," the singer admits. “We just had a musical conversation. We listened to music for hours in his office to figure out what I was drawn to. I was thinking about making a mellow, singer/ songwriter record in a soul vein, something with horns, like a Ray Charles record."

Sure, it's a decidedly left-turn shift for the country belter, but she explains that it's not really that different than making country music. She explains, “To some Country fans, it might sound like I’ve taken some kind of a left turn, but this is so similar to Country Music! And anything I do is probably going to have a Country sensibility because that’s what I’ve sung for so long. The common thread is that it’s me. I hope people listen and go, ‘Oh, that’s just Martina, doing what she always does.’”

Don't forget to grab a copy of "Everlasting" on iTunes now!