Long before Martina McBride was a CMA and ACM Award winner, she was Martina Schiff, an aspiring singer from a small town in Kansas. Growing up, Martina sang in her family’s band, the Schiffters. They traveled around playing weddings, supper clubs and dances until Martina graduated high school.
After realizing college wasn’t for her, Martina dropped out and joined a band called the Penetrators and paid her bills with a paycheck from the local Dairy Queen.
Hoping to find her big break, Martina traveled with the Penetrators in a beat-up van and sang Pat Benatar covers for anyone who would listen. The singer later told People the band “made no money” and eventually broke up.
She soon sought out musicians and formed a new band. They rented a warehouse rehearsal space from a sound engineer named John McBride, but as luck would have it, no one in the band wanted to rehearse. Martina was heartbroken and turned to McBride, who was living in the warehouse at the time, for support.
“Here I was, crying on his shoulder about my band not coming together, and I thought, ‘I’m in love with this guy,” she recalled to People. “This is crazy. He lives in a warehouse.’”
After Martina got past her initial hesitations and they eventually fell in love and were married on May 15, 1988.
Hoping to further their music careers, John and Martina relocated to Nashville about two years later. Things started to fall into place when John got a job as a sound engineer on the Garth Brooks tour. Martina picked up a gig selling merchandise on the tour and the pair traveled around the country together.
In 1991, Martina signed with RCA Records after John gave one of her demos to a record label executive. Her debut album was released the following year and she was on her way to becoming a country music superstar.
The McBrides have managed to maintain a healthy relationship even though they’ve been in the spotlight for nearly 30 years. How do they do it?
“When people ask me the secret to staying married, the most obvious answer is that I chose well. Or got lucky, depending on how you look at it,” Martina McBride once wrote in an article for NBC’s TODAY Show. “I married a man who is a great partner. He is thoughtful, kind, considerate, romantic, handsome and really funny. We love each other’s company, our personalities complement each other, and we respect each other. He thinks I’m smart and funny, and I think the same about him. We are a great team.”
Martina and John have three daughters; Delaney (born 1994), Emma (born 1998) and Ava (born 2005).