“Opening Act” turns reality singing competitions on their head – and country diva Martina McBride is joining in on the fun. The E! show, which debuted July 9, follows the Artist Development Team – an all-star collection of music industry phenoms (like McBride) – as they scour the internet for the most promising aspiring singers and book them to open for some of the biggest acts out there, including Brad Paisley, Jason Mraz, Jason Aldean and Nicki Minaj.
Once the acts are selected, they begin working with the Artist Development Team to get ready for their big stage debut, which is only a few days away. McBride will be joining the likes of Mary J. Blige, Pete Wentz and Jason Derulo as they offer vocal and performance tips to the newbies, along with preparing them for the wild ride of a music career.
McBride is well-equipped to share her wisdom with the chosen acts – her twenty plus years in the industry were kicked off in similar fashion after being offered an opening gig for Garth Brooks. McBride’s hubby John was part of Brooks’ sound crew and later became his concert production manager. After joining her husband on the road and schlepping Garth Brooks souvenirs, the “Friends in Low Places” singer decided to take a chance on the young McBride if she could secure a record deal.
Martina dished about being an opening act, “It’s exhilarating, it’s scary, it’s your big break… it’s everything to an artist that’s just starting out. That’s one of the things that attracted me when I was asked to do this show. I was so excited to do it because having been an opening act I know… what it feels like to get that phone call, and to be able to have that opportunity. And, for me, being able to be part of a team that got to give that opportunity to someone else is a great feeling.”
The show differs from creator Nigel Lythgoe’s other hits, “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” in that there are no judges and no chance for America to vote. If the act gets chosen by the Artist Development Team, they’re in and then it’s up to them to turn this once-in-a-lifetime chance into a successful career.
After that initial shot, Martina continued to play as an opening act for years, all the while working toward her ultimate goal of one day being the headliner. That dream came true for the country superstar a dozen years ago, and she’s reached the point where she’s ready to take a break from huge arena shows. McBride’s current tour is filled with smaller, more intimate venues – and that’s just the way the “Independence Day” singer wants it.
“I believe the concert experience is about sharing,” she told musicrow.com. “It’s not just an artist up on stage singing songs for an audience. There has to be a connection for it to work…for both of us. In an arena, I always feel like my mission is to keep people up on their feet all night. These theater shows are going to be more about making memories I hope they never forget.”
No doubt Martina is hopeful that the amateur acts her new show is giving their big break will also be able to take their passion for music from “Opening Act” to huge arenas and back again – on their own terms.