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Martina McBride to headline '03 Stadium of Fire

PROVO — Utah will celebrate this year in pure country fashion.

Organizers of America's Freedom Festival at Provo announced Wednesday that country music superstar Martina McBride will headline this year's Stadium of Fire celebration.

"We always try to bring A-list talent to the Stadium of Fire," said Taylor McDonald, a Freedom Festival official. "(McBride) is about as good as you can get."

The Stadium of Fire celebration is a big part of Provo's Independence Day celebration. Parades, tournaments, an art festival and a baby contest also are planned for the event.

McBride, whose song "Independence Day" catapulted her to fame, has won the Academy of Country Music's "Top Female Vocalist of the Year" award and was named "Female Vocalist of the Year" by the Country Music Association. Her seven albums have collectively sold more than 10 million copies and produced 26 Top 40 hits, including six No. 1s.

Popular television and talk-radio personality Sean Hannity will also participate in the July Fourth celebration, as will the Osmonds Second Generation.

New to the festival's lineup this year is the so-called "Patriotic Celebration." Hannity will deliver a patriotic speech at the July 5 event at BYU's Marriott Center.

Hannity is the co-host of "Hannity & Colmes" on the Fox News Channel and also hosts "The Sean Hannity Show," heard locally on KSL 1160 AM from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays. The news personality also has a New York Times best seller, "Let Freedom Ring."

Interestingly, Hannity uses the chorus of McBride's "Independence Day" during his show.

"We think Hannity is a patriotic man," McDonald said. "He's got 13 to 14 million listeners who like his straightforward approach."

It wouldn't be Independence Day without fireworks. So, Stadium of Fire organizers hired PyroSpectacular, the company responsible for the amazing fireworks displays for opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, to light up LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Emmy-winning producers John and Sheri Whittaker, who played a key role in orchestrating the Salt Lake Olympics' ceremonies, will produce the Stadium of Fire event.

With the country facing possible war in Iraq, McDonald said it is important for people to celebrate all that is good about the United States.

"It looks like we may be going to war, so it is important to seriously consider our feelings of America," McDonald said. "We're above politics; we are just in favor of the red, white and blue."


E-MAIL: ldethman@desnews.com