Country music fans know Martina McBride for her soaring soprano voice and songs of liberation. McBride's body of work tends to focus on that little-l liberation -- it's not political, but she does focus on those moments when everyday people take the step to live as their true selves. The first of McBride's many, many hits as a Nashville superstar, 1991's "The Time Has Come," was the first in the vein. Some of McBride's most famous country songs include "In My Daughter's Eyes," "I Love You," "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," "Concrete Angel," "God's Will," "Valentine" (with Jim Brickman), "How I Feel," "Reckless" and "Cheap Whiskey."
McBride's range (and hit-making prowess) earned her the title the "Celine Dion of Country Music." Since 1991, McBride has recorded 13 studio albums, two greatest hits compilations and the live album Shine. She's collaborated with Train on CMT Crossroads and worked in the studio with Clint Black and other famous peers. Notably, McBride is the owner of four awards for the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" and three of the Academy of Country Music's "Top Female Vocalist" awards. She's been nominated for 14 Grammys.
Scrolling through some of her best music videos, it's easy to see why she's so beloved.
10. "The Time Has Come"
This was the first of McBride's hits. In the song, McBride lets go of a lover -- but she doesn't sound too broken up about it. The black-and-white video features the singer as she wanders down a distinctly American, distinctly lonely highway. McBride hops aboard a train and watches as wild horses match her -- all speeding away from a past that has worn out its welcome.
9. "My Baby Loves Me"
While McBride never shies from controversial topics, this is one of her lighter songs. The video features real-life couples dancing together, underscoring the song's genuine affection for the narrator's partner.
8. "Life #9"
In this song, McBride puts an errant lover on notice. The video shows McBride warming up for a show. Meanwhile, a few couples dance on a 16-wheeler while older folks line-dance to the song, implying its appeal for country fans of all ages.
7. "Safe in the Arms of Love"
While the song is about a person getting tired of the single life, the video shows McBride shrinking into a circus tent with Cirque du Soleil perfomers a la Alice in Wonderland. I don't know how we'll explain the 90s to future generations, but this song's appeal won't be lost on them.
6. "Wild Angels"
Relationships have plenty of ups and downs, and sometimes you sit back and wonder how you made it through all of it. McBride credits wild angels to keeping her relationship together. The video sports McBride singing in a mashup of New York City and...somewhere (that magnificent clock tower, unfortunately, doesn't exist here) as angels guide peoples journeys. I'd like to think of it as an oblique reference to Angels in America.
5. "Love's the Only House"
In her 1999 hit, McBride assures us that love can help us overcome our pain -- whether it's sense of loneliness, or what McBride describes as a "culture of darkness" in under-served communities. This could be romantic love or small acts of solidarity that help all of us get by.
4. "When God-Fearin' Women Get the Blues"
In one of McBride's more cinematically ambitious videos, McBride gives an eyewitness account of a "flower of the South" finally getting fed-up with her disappointing husband and constraining life. The main character of the video has her mid-life crisis in style as the citizens of Bowling Green, KY watch breathlessly.
3. "Independence Day"
One of Martina McBride's greatest hits, the black and white video tells a story of domestic violence and revenge. The video was directed by Deaton Flanigen and its powerful portrayal of an all-too-common problem earned McBride and Flanigen the 1994 Country Music Association Video of the Year. It's from McBride's classic 1993 album The Way That I Am.
2. "A Broken Wing"
Before "Independence Day," Flanigen teamed up with McBridge again on "A Broken Wing" to cover similar ground. This song has a more ambiguous ending -- the wife in the song leaves a note next to a second-story window; from the song it's unclear where she ended up. But we know she's free.
1. "This One's for the Girls"
As current events have shown, entering this world a woman comes with a number of constraints -- and possibilities. The video and the song remind us that no matter what stage we're at in our lives, there's plenty to look forward to even as there are obstacles to overcome. McBride would return to this theme in "In My Daughter's Eyes" and "Teenage Daughters."
This story originally ran on Sept. 28, 2018.