But as it turned out, McBride benefited from the suburban markets that Brooks' success opened. Propelled by McBride's ability to belt as high and clear as Celine Dion, rocking pop-country anthems like "Independence Day" -- about a mom and daughter's rebellion against the abusive man of the house -- hit the top of the charts, turning McBride into a staple among soccer moms and their young daughters.
Ten million album sales later, McBride in her 40th year has brought it down a notch, finding new and relatively low-key ways to nurse her niche. Besides giving birth to her third daughter in 2005, she also scored a surprise hit with a Hallmark-released Valentine's Day EP, earned her own celebrity Barbie doll, and released the platinum-plus Timeless, a self-produced collection of country standards that ranged from classic Hank Williams to "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." Though here and there she pushes the tempo too hard or plays up the novelty factor with retro backup singers, the nearly hour-long set mostly goes down straight and smooth, and it should spice up this tour with flavors that many soccer moms never even knew they had in their country kitchens.