Martina McBride Rocks Nashville's Ryman Auditorium – with a Little Help from Gavin DeGraw

The singer wows the hometown crowd for an upcoming TV special

Photo: Nancy Kruh

Given Martina McBride’s electric, all-stops-pulled-out performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium Saturday night, you’d think she would have spent the earlier part of her day resting up.

But in fact, the singer had spent the afternoon on the same Nashville stage, performing the same super-charged show – before an empty house.

The reason: She and her 11-piece band – eight musicians and three backup singers – were filming an upcoming TV special, and cameras needed both shows to make sure they literally covered all the angles.

But as McBride, 48, said at a late-night reception, the first show was “nothing like” the second. Making sure of that was a rapturous sell-out crowd, who buoyed the singer with one standing ovation after another.

“This is my favorite place to play in the whole world,” she announced, alluding to the historic auditorium’s legendary acoustics – and the support of the hometown crowd.

The two-hour show featured both McBride’s crowd-pleasing hits from her 22-year career and a generous selection of cuts from her latest album, Everlasting, a compilation of mostly R&B and soul classics. And it included a surprise appearance by singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, who joined McBride on “Bring It On Home to Me,” which the two recorded together on Everlasting.

At the post-show party, the 37-year-old DeGraw, who also lives in Nashville, rushed to congratulate McBride on the performance.

“Every entertainer is wondering, how it’s going to go tonight?” he said. “You hope the crowd doesn’t take the opportunity to relax. You want them to enjoy it, but you want them involved. I was watching the stage tonight and I saw them getting up, and I thought, this is going to be a great night.”

He grinned at his duet partner, who was soaking in his words. “How could they resist?” DeGraw said as he raised a hand to high-five McBride.

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