Martina McBride's "Independence Day" never cracked the top 10, but became one of her signature songs.
Martina McBride's "Independence Day" never cracked the top 10, but became one of her signature songs.

By Dawn's Early Light

Inquiring Minds

Like the heroine in her 1994 hit song "Independence Day," Martina McBride also has been known to light up the sky. The country-pop star also known for "Wild Angels," "A Broken Wing" and last year's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" admits she has a thing for fireworks.

When she's not on tour, McBride says she enjoys retreating to her tiny hometown of Sharon, Kansas (pop. 150), and helping her husband John set up "a ton" of fireworks on the since-closed high school's baseball field. The 4th of July is "like Christmas for him," she notes.

"So we spend all day setting up, and we have a huge fireworks show," says McBride. "It's actually pretty amazing."

Despite its title, McBride says she doesn't necessarily associate "Independence Day" with the 4th of July all that much.

"For me it's about so much more than the 4th of July," McBride says. "Honestly, very often, I don't think of the two together as far as a celebration of our nation's freedom and that song. For me the song's about so much more.

"But for the several thousand people that will be there on the Fourth, it's about that," she adds. "It's always good to play that song on the 4th of July, for sure."

Doing interviews from her back porch on a "beautiful, gorgeous day here in Nashville," the 46-year old singer says she hadn't even originally planned to release "Independence Day" as a single; she just wanted to record it. Written by Gretchen Peters, the song tells the stories of two women, the daughter of an alcoholic, abusive father and her mother, who winds up burning down the family homestead. It was controversial subject matter for country radio at the time (and probably today), but McBride says her label RCA was behind her all the way.

"They were always supportive about it being a single," she says. "It's been a long time ago, but I can't remember any sort of worry or ­hesitation."

However, "'Independence Day" did meet with some resistance from radio. "Yeah. I think we had ten or 12 stations that never played it," McBride said. "Everybody thinks it was this huge No. 1 song, but I think it peaked at 11 or something. So it was a fight to get it on the ­radio."

Then, in June 1994, not all that long after the song had been released to radio, the Nicole Brown Simpson murders happened and domestic abuse — which happened to be the very topic of McBride's anthem-in-the-making — suddenly became the nation's No. 1 topic of conversation.

"So we went from being something that nobody wanted to talk about or would play on a radio station, to a topic that was on the news every hour on their radio station," McBride says.

Even at the time, she says she could watch people's attitudes changing after "Independence Day" forced some uncomfortable issues into the light.

"I had one [radio] programmer tell me, 'When the video's on, my daughter walks through the house, [and] now I have to explain to her what the song is about and what's going on,'" recounts McBride. "I was like, 'And that's a bad thing? Wouldn't you think you'd want to use that as an opening to sit down and talk to your daughter about some of this stuff? It might be a good thing to talk to her about.'

"But it was just something that was not really talked about back then much."

"Independence Day" may have missed the country Top 10, but it became one of the signature songs of McBride's career, which has gone to include dozens of other hit songs, a handful of No. 1 country albums and three CMA awards for Best Female Vocals. It's also an anthem for the many, many women who recognized themselves in Peters' lyrics; McBride estimates the number of fans who have told her how the song touched them personally as in the thousands. (She is also a spokeswoman for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.)

"You hear people say, 'I'd been in an abusive relationship for 14 years and I got in the car and I heard that song and made my decision to leave,'" reflects McBride. "It was like, wow. That's the power of music.

"One of the most moving stories was a woman who said that her husband had committed suicide and she always carried all this guilt about it, and then heard that song and realized — it sort of set her free in a way," she adds. "So music is really powerful, and that song particularly is such a well-written [song]'s really like poetry."

Martina McBride and Sheryl Crow headline the July 4 Freedom Over Texas festival Thursday at Eleanor Tinsley Park, 150 Sabine. Admission is free; gates open at 2 p.m.

TV Party

Look What's Cooking
Five Rappers Who Could Take Paula Deen's Food Network Spot.

Charne Graham

Paula Deen has gotten herself into some down-home, Southern deep shit. Recently, it was exposed that she is okay with using the derogatory n-word, which was just one of the offensive things she said in a deposition. Last Friday she struggled to issue an apology video that no one wanted to give a chance.

Deen has lost huge endorsements and Food Network decided not to renew the contract for her cooking show. Here are a few rappers who can take her spot.

5. Trick Daddy

Miami's own was first seen cooking on television on an episode of MTV Cribs. America was welcomed into his home as he cooked and introduced some of us to what a conch fritter is. Trick Daddy also filmed a pilot for a cooking show in 2004 for MTV that never happened.

4. Mia X

This Southern belle hails from New Orleans, where almost everything from the kitchen is incredible. No Limit Records's first lady was once a co-owner of a restaurant in New Orleans. She also announced last year that she plans to release a cookbook/memoir featuring life lessons with delicious recipes attached. If you need ­visuals now just check the Twitter hashtag #TeamWhipThemPots to see what Mia X is serving up.

3. Action Bronson

Not only is he one of the hottest up-and-coming rappers out right now, he was also once a well-known gourmet chef in New York. Bronson's Instagram page is filled with mouth-watering magic that he's cooked. He also hosted his own online cooking show titled "Action in the Kitchen." He knows his shit and is all good to go for the Food Network.

2.Raekwon The Chef

Simply because Wu-Tang is forever. Now of course Raekwon doesn't cook food but he's in the kitchen using Pyrex pots and we could all learn a thing or two from him.

1. Lil B

It still baffles me how this guy is so famous among the kids. Not sure if Food Network would go for this, but Lil B is a self-proclaimed master chef and has been showing us how to cook on the Internet since 2010. How funny would it be to see that on national television?

Festival Experience

Road Trippin'
Four Days in Vegas: A First Time at EDC Travel Journal.

Marco Torres

Life is all about creating opportunities that will allow you to follow and achieve your dreams, however difficult, weird, or impossible those dreams may seem. In the past few months, years really, my own life has been both enchanted and treacherous, with love gained and lost, dealing with death and accepting new life into my family, and finally finding a calling that has me going "all in," ready to hit my jackpot.

Damn. Here I thought this article was only going to be about some music festival in the desert.

So when the opportunity to cover the 2013 Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas presented itself, I gladly took it. The three-day, three-night celebration of EDM is one of the biggest and most adored music festivals in the world, with more than 100,000 people visiting the Las Vegas Motor Speedway each night to live the PLUR (Peace.Love.Unity.Respect) life to the beat of a DJ's electronic pulse.

The following is a timeline of my first EDC experience.

Thursday, June 20

00:00 I arrive at McCarran Las Vegas International Airport at midnight. It was the cheapest direct flight I could find on short notice. Chuy, my friend, fellow photographer, and partner-in-crime wasn't scheduled to land until noon, which meant I had a full 12 hours to kill in Vegas. This should be interesting.

01:00 Note to self: if you are ever standing in the long line for a shuttle, and someone with more money than you hires a limo and offers a free ride to any hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, take it without hesitation. Fuck it, it's Vegas, baby!

07:00 I've spent my last few hours walking between The Bellagio, The Cosmopolitan and The Aria hotels, gambling, drinking, and taking Vine videos of an eerily empty Las Vegas Boulevard. I've been awake for 24-hours now, and my body desperately wants to shut down, but I'm also starving. Time to hit the breakfast buffet at The Bellagio. All-You-Can-Drink mimosas, here I come!

11:00 The restrooms at The Aria are a nice and quiet place to sleep.

13:00 Meet up with Chuy at the hotel. Leave our bags and head to the Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub for a pool party with Dutch producer and DJ Sander Von Doorn. The DJ's PR rep was able to add my name (+1) to the guest list. Within a few minutes, we were in. Let the drinking and debauchery begin.

Friday, June 21

11:00 "Hey Marco! Want to shoot a Vibe party today?"

14:00 So now I'm shooting a media lunch for Vibe/SPIN magazine at Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Networking is another great incentive to attend music festivals. Free food and drinks are as well.

19:00 Ready for EDC Vegas 2013 - Day One:

23:59 This is a music festival, but music seems to come in second place here. The people are the main attraction. Everyone is in a good mood, (un)dressed to impress and ready to make friends. Of course, the DJs rule the night, but only because they are on an elevated platform. They don't make the party, but they do make it better.

We caught sets by Fake Blood, Crookers, Gareth Emery, Madeon, Boys Noize, and Afrojack tonight.

Saturday, June 22

07:00 Walking back to the hotel.

17:00 Another day, another pool party. This time it's Skrillex @ Daylight Beach Club. Awesome show at sunset.

23:59 Today had the best line-up of the weekend in my opinion. We catch sets from Tiësto, Baauer, A-Trak, Dog Blood, Major Lazer, and Empire Of The Sun. I leave a bit early (4 a.m.), but Chuy stays to see Fatboy Slim, Zeds Dead, David Guetta, and a spectacular desert sunrise.

13:00 Another day, another buffet. We also hit the liquor store for bottles of champagne and cigars. Sunday Funday in Vegas.

23:59 Today was the most chill day at the festival. We didn't even look at the schedule, just roamed freely, drinking and dancing along the way. We did see Jack Beats, Kill The Noise, Knife Party, D-Block & S-te-Fan, Steve Angello, and Calvin Harris.

The Verdict:

Easily one of the best experiences of my life. I liked EDC more than I liked Coachella, which was itself amazing. I'm thankful for the female festival attendee who showed me the kandi PLUR handshake, and everyone who hugged me after I took their photos, and for the dudes from Mexico who let me rage with them as I carried their Mexican flag over my head.

Chuy had the best 30th birthday anyone has ever had, ever. We ate, we drank, we danced, we made friends. We are already planning our trip for next year.

You should, too.

Ask Willie D

Life's Perils
I Like Him But He's Ugly

Dear Willie D:

My aunt introduced me to a younger friend of hers. He is kind, considerate and generous but he leaves something to be desired lookswise. Because of that I have been slow to warm up to him. He is the nicest guy I've ever met. We talk on the phone often and have been out twice. Each time we went out I actually had fun but I hesitate to spend too much time with him because I'm afraid that I might start liking him.

If that happens, eventually he'll have to meet my friends and I'm embarrassed as to what they will think of him. What do you think about my dilemma?

Embarrassed Niece:

What do you mean you're afraid you might start liking him? You already like him. You might even be in love and don't know it. Love is blind. It has a way of overlooking our imperfections and perceived shortcomings. I wouldn't put too much stock into what friends say. Besides, ugly dudes usually treat attractive women better than attractive men do because attractive men think they can always replace you. Conclusively, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the more he'll be holding you, the better he'll start looking.


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