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McBride is trying her hand at songwriting

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Martina McBride

Martina McBride

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Martina McBride has a new album, "Waking Up Laughing," and it's a good bet to sell a million copies or more — just like her last six.

Country music's queen of consistency has built a solid career singing inspirational, life-affirming songs that tell stories about women and their lives, songs made believable because of her own values and personal life.

"I'm grateful to have lasted a relatively long time," says McBride, who has sold 12 million records over her 15-year career. "I hope to sing songs that still matter."

"Waking Up Laughing," her 10th album and the second one she's produced by herself, also marks the introduction of McBride as a songwriter. She co-wrote three songs on the album, although she insists songwriting isn't her first calling.

"I'm not going to be writing 100 songs a year," she said.

She shares songwriting credit on the gospel-influenced hit single "Anyway." Like other McBride songs, it's about perseverance and finding a sense of peace in the middle of life's disappointments. "When I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should," she sings. "But I do it anyway."

She also co-wrote "Beautiful Again," about a young girl abandoned by her father and sexually abused by her uncle. It's dark material, but the chorus holds out the hope of healing and redemption: "The past gets washed again, and then ... the world gets beautiful, beautiful again."

"Waking Up Laughing," which was released Tuesday, is in some ways a return to form for McBride, who built a successful career as a stylish, contemporary pop hitmaker with a powerhouse voice. Her previous album, 2005's "Timeless," was a collection of country standards.

Throughout her career, McBride has been attracted to songs about women's lives — inspirational stories about hope, independence and persistence — and these themes have resonated with her largely female audience.

"They identify with me in some way," she said. "I sing songs that are uplifting and hopeful. My music helps them feel better." But she quickly adds that men are her target fans as well. "My hope is to appeal to everyone."

Jon Elliott, vice president of marketing and artist development for RCA Nashville, her label home, estimates up to 70 percent of McBride's record buyers are women — one of the highest percentages in country music.

"It's the nature of the songs she sings and their contents and who she is and what she represents," Elliott said.

McBride, 40, is a wife and mother who still shops at the mall with her family. The Kansas native says she does her own laundry, dishes and grocery shopping. She has no nanny, no maid. The greatest day of her life? "When the kids were born," she says.

Her family is a constant part of her life and career. She and husband John married in 1988. He mixes the sound at her concerts, and their daughters are usually with them on tour. And toddler Ava says a tender "bye-bye" at the end of the new album, joining her siblings who've had minor spots in their mother's previous albums.

"It was her turn," McBride said.

On the Net: www.martina-mcbride.com