When country star Martina McBride performs in Atlanta on Sept. 28, singing at Chastain Amphitheater, she will be building more than a fan base.
She, and a network of fundraisers called Team Martina, will be helping to build an innovative playground in nearby Chastain Park.
The group has already raised more than half of its $20,000 goal to contribute to the project, using some interesting bait. The first 50 members of Team Martina who raise more than $200 for the playground will be invited to hear McBride at her sound check before the concert.
That gives them access to a sort of a private mini-concert at which the artist will sing songs that might not make it into the show. “We might do old album cuts, covers, songs we haven’t been able to do in a while,” said McBride. “We might do [the 1997 hit] ‘Cry on the Shoulder of the Road.’ We do ‘At Last’ every once in a while, by Etta James.”
Those same folks will have pizza with McBride between sound check and the performance.
It’s an opportunity for a fan to get a much more personal view of the singer. Those who want to get even more personal can vie for a chance to win a piece of the McBride wardrobe — the gray peplum dress she wore to sing the National Anthem at the Kentucky Derby — and other personal items.
Team Martina is working with the Chastain Park Conservancy and Play Chastain to plan a multi-acre playground with a zipline, water feature, tree-house and plenty of natural elements.
“We’re still designing and refining the design and working with the city,” said Cynthia Gentry, of Play Chastain. “It’s going to be extraordinary.”
The total cost of the project will be between $2.5 million and $2.8 million. The playground will be appropriate for able-bodied children and children with special needs, Gentry said. For example, the tree house will be wheelchair accessible.
McBride’s team of fundraisers have supported variety of causes. Recently, the team raised $40,000 for Nashville’s Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center.
What might surprise some of McBride’s fans is the fact that she is also occasionally starstruck. She recently acquired a dress worn by country legend Tammy Wynette. “I bought it at an auction here in Nashville,” she said. “It’s a piece of her personal wardrobe that I think is cool to have.”
Another singer who inspired McBride is pop belter Pat Benatar. When it turned out that Benatar mentioned McBride in Benatar’s 2010 autobiography, “Between a Heart and a Rock Place,” McBride was thrilled.
“It’s a pretty amazing thing, if you listen to her as much as I’ve listened to her and looked up to her as long as I have,” said McBride. This month, McBride will part with her personal copy of the book, offering it in a drawing, along with the Derby dress, as another premium for Team Martina members who participate in the Play Chastain fundraiser.
For information on the fundraiser, visit Team Martina’s Sound Check for Kids page at www.Crowdrise.com. The first 50 fans who raise a minimum of $200 will be invited to an exclusive party at Martina’s sound check prior to the concert that evening. Anyone who donates at least $15 will have a chance to win Martina’s personal copy of Pat Benatar’s memoir. Donors of $25 and above will be entered into sweepstakes to win the dress Martina wore at the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Martina McBride, at Chastain Park Amphitheater, 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28. Tickets, $46-102, available at Ticketmast and the Chastain Box Office. Chastain Park Amphitheater, 4469 Stella Dr NW, Atlanta, 404-733-5000,