Country mainstay Martina McBride is preparing for her first concerts in the United Kingdom and Ireland for some 15 years. The star tells Billboard.com that the dates will pave the way for a yet-to-be-announced American tour in November.

McBride, whose current, ninth studio album "Shine" (RCA/Sony Music Entertainment) reached No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums, will play London's Indig02 July 31, then six shows in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Aug 2-8. She says she made a conscious effort to schedule the European trip this time around.

"It's been a long time since I've been over there, probably '94 was the last time," she reflects. "I'm looking forward to it, we made so many great memories last time I was there.

"I've got such a limited amount of time I can tour, with the kids and their schedules," says McBride. She and her husband, sound engineer John McBride, have three daughters, now ages 14, 11 and four. "So finding the time to pull back from my touring here and make the trip was a challenge.

"But finally this year, we got offered these dates and I said ‘You know what, we hadn't planned to tour this summer in the U.S. so it's a perfect opportunity, and the perfect window for me to do it.'" RCA will release "Shine" in the United Kingdom July 27.

"We're starting our U.S. tour in November, we're just now starting to put it together and come up with set designs. Typically what we do is put out an album and start touring right away. We took some time this time."

McBride is pleased thus far with the reaction to "Shine," which also reached No. 10 on The Billboard 200. "The challenge when you've made nine records is to just figure out a way to move things forward, creatively, and trying not to make the same record over and over again.

"I worked with a new producer this time [Dann Huff], which got me out of my comfort zone. Luckily I'm still making music and people still seem to be interested in buying it."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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