Country/R&B singer Mary McBride might be best described with a simple equation. Take a soulful voice finely suited to sing every patron of a New York dive bar into a musical coma. Add in the legacy of Merle Haggard and Janis Joplin. Factor in a taste for musical theater. Subtract the striving for corporate success tracks—and you’ll get Mary McBride.
From the Big Easy to the Big Apple
A leading voice in the recent resurgence of Americana-styled country and blues, McBride has an extended family of forefathers, fans and soon-to-be-fans ready to welcome her on to the national media stage. Originally from Louisiana, McBride moved herself and an ingrained love of traditional Southern sounds to New York City to pursue a musical career that began with short sets in an Irish Pub on Sunday afternoons.
Finding her “home” in country roots helped lead McBride to the theme behind her new album The Way Home. The tracks are embroidered with country, R&B, soul and rock influences, making McBride a living testament to the melting pot of musical culture in New York City, and the whole country. “R&B is closely aligned with a country sound,” she asserts. “But I really wanted the record to be a mix and not a straight country or a straight soul record.” Departing from earlier writing patterns where entire albums were laid out in two-week frenzies, McBride says The Way Home is “a more thoughtful record with a range of sounds and a specific theme of wanting to feel included and wanting to feel at home.”
It is this theme that McBride’s current tour, “The Home Tour,” is built on. “We are playing in rural communities, places that support affordable housing. We have a stop at a housing complex called the Chesca Apartments on the edge of Navajo nation. Later, we are playing in a farm worker’s community, and in Detroit, we are playing for Freedom House—a place for immigrants who seek asylum,” she explains. “And that’s what’s so exciting about this tour: every date will be completely different.”
The idea to perform for groups of people often disenfranchised from mainstream opportunities (think Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison) came after participating in National Service Day with the non-profit organization We Are Family. “We weren’t in a soup kitchen or cleaning up a park. We Are Family simply wanted us to visit people. From that experience, I realized how intimate it was to be in a stranger’s home, to talk to them, hear about their life, and it felt so welcoming,” says McBride. “Some of the women I met asked what I did for a living, and when I told them I was a musician, they wanted me to come back and play for them. It was a lovely, warm sentiment.”
And so it is this sentiment that inspired McBride and her band to play for homeless shelters, city projects, and other “places people call home” across the United States. “I’m hoping this tour will be a catalyst, and not just for my album, but for people to think about the word home and start to understand these communities and talk about them.”
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ARE YOU A COUNTRY FAN? Did you watch the CMT Awards last night? Who deserved the wins and who got robbed? Some of our faves: Carrie Underwood’s two awards (you go, girl!) and Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” steal for Group Video of the Year. And shocker—Taylor went home empty-handed. Let us know who YOU would’ve picked!