When country superstar Martina McBride decides to support a cause, she does it big — as in skyscraper big. To raise funds for breast cancer treatment, McBride will perform a concert — said to be the first — at the top of an Empire State Building bathed in bright pink light.
The private New York concert, set for Friday, Oct. 14, will feature McBride's highly emotional single, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," from the new album, Eleven, which debuts this week. It is written from an unusual point of view — that of the husband of a breast cancer sufferer.
"What really struck me is that it supports the caregiver, not just the person with cancer," said McBride, 45, in an interview during a tour stop in North Dakota. "You realize that at any moment, your whole world can change, but there's a community of support to lift you up. So I wanted to get across that emotion and message of hope, and I think country music does that better than any genre."
McBride said that no one close to her has been struck by cancer, but she's met many breast cancer survivors. A number of them, including news anchors Robin Roberts and Hoda Kotb, as well as Grammy Award-winning singer Sheryl Crow, are featured in the song's music video.
While she dabbled in songwriting on previous albums, McBride insisted on writing a majority of the 11 tracks on Eleven, which — in an obvious pattern — has a release date of 10/11/11.
"For me, it was about taking control," McBride said. "I fought with my confidence in doing it for a while, and I finally got to the point where I said, 'Why not?' I've really tried to focus on everything in my life being positive, and writing helped me open up."
For a fresh start, she chose to record the album with a new production team in Atlanta, far from the familiar studios of Nashville, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. McBride said that she's proudest of one song that was inspired by her children, "Teenage Daughters."
"That song came from a personal experience, from a talk I had with my 17-year-old, and I thought it came through real natural in the song," she said.
The lyrics back her up: "It's like it happened overnight / We're always wrong, they're always right / We used to be the ones breakin' the rules / Now we're just mothers, yeah, we're just fathers."
"Somebody told me that reminded them of a Loretta Lynn song," McBride said. "I guess I must be doing something right to be mentioned in that company!"
Lynn is, of course, one of the undisputed all-time greats of country music. But McBride is earning a place among such legends. She's already won four Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year awards to Lynn's three, and she is nominated this year for her fifth.
McBride has one big trip planned before she appears on the CMA Awards show telecast in November. After the Empire State Building concert, she's flying to Los Angeles to begin a cross-country train trip back to New York. The journey includes 11 stops, where she'll meet with breast cancer survivors and perform short concerts.
"At a certain point, I realized the power of celebrity," McBride said. "I can't be in the trenches, I can't go work in the shelters every day, but I do have a voice, and hopefully I can make an impact that way."