Martina McBride’s latest album is nothing new. The country superstar mined Motown classics for “Everlasting,” her first release from her own Vinyl Recordings label. McBride’s genre switch-up paid off: The bluesy collection of pop and R&B covers, including The Supremes’ “Come See About Me” and Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart in April. The mother of three also dug into her personal archives for “Around the Table,” a cookbook due in October. She’ll perform a postgame concert at Nationals Park on Saturday.
On paper, these songs don’t exactly go together. How did you compile the album?
A lot of the songs I really chose with the live shows in mind. … [Elvis Presley’s] “Suspicious Minds” is a song I’ve always wanted to record, and I always thought it would be really dramatic and cool to do it live. And then it just came down to what songs fit my voice, what songs I could perform authentically, what songs felt like they could be a Martina McBride record. It was really just dead instinct.
How did your own memories of these songs inspire you?
I think we all have memories associated with music — that’s what makes it so special. You know, where were we when we heard that song, what in our life was going on when these songs were on the radio. … I’m able to have a place where people can go and hear these songs again, because they’re not being played on current radio. I feel like I’m doing a service in a way.
Your performances on this tour are old-school with an intimate feeling. How’s that going to work in a big stadium?
This tour really plays both ways. It plays very intimate in performing arts centers and in theaters but I think it’s big, too. I’ve got, counting myself, 12 people onstage. So it’s a really big band, it’s very visual. I’ve got everybody in matching outfits, and they’ve got moves. There’s a lot of stuff going on onstage, so there’s always something to watch.
Will your big hits get a bluesy treatment like the album?
We do a lot of hits. … We worked out those songs to work in the horn element. … It’s fun for us to freshen it up. You don’t just want to go out and do some karaoke version of your show.
Do you always put so much thought into a tour’s aesthetic?
I just wanted to be all-in. I didn’t want to kind of show up and do a couple of Motown songs. I really wanted it to be like, “Wow, she’s really committed, she’s created something really amazing to see and has obviously put a lot of thought into it.”
And your cookbook is about creating atmosphere too, right?
I love to have people over at my house and to entertain. I feel like it’s intimidating for a lot of people; it’s intimidating for me sometimes. … It has a menu and it has recipes, but it also has ideas for place settings, for invitations, for setting the vibe. That’s what I love most about a party, is setting a feeling, you know?
Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol St. SE, 202-675-6287, washington.nationals.mlb.com. (Navy Yard) Saturday, 7:05 game time, $25-$350.