Like most modern-day country artists, McBride counts her tourmate among her childhood influences.
“He's part of my earliest memories,” she said. “I grew up listening to his music ... and performing it. You know, my dad was a singer and had a local band and would perform songs from George Strait. So, he was definitely a part of my life.”
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Strait has racked up records and accolades since his 1981 debut single “Unwound” became a top 10 hit. He has scored 59 No. 1 songs, earned more than 60 major industry awards and sold more than 65 million albums.
But McBride said his influence extends beyond music.
“His consistency and longevity and, you know, he always just handles himself with class and he has tons of integrity, so that's probably the biggest way that he influences all of us,” she said.
While touring with Strait always means playing for huge crowds of fervent fans, McBride expects extra enthusiasm and emotion on his final tour. For years, he has used his 1985 hit “The Cowboy Rides Away” to close his shows, and she anticipates plenty of fans will be in tears by the time he croons the ballad during his farewell shows.
“I know the fans would still come to see him for many, many, many years,” she said. “I just guess that everybody comes to that point in their career where they have to make that decision.”
While she doesn't have a particular Strait song she is most looking forward to hearing, McBride is glad the superstar cowboy invited her along on his last ride.
“Oh, I love 'em all. I mean, I love when he does the stuff like ‘Amarillo by Morning' and ‘The Chair' and ‘The Fireman.' You know, some of the older stuff. ‘Marina del Rey,' all that,” she said.
“We're just looking forward to doing this again and just being a part of the whole thing.”