The country singer, whose 1994 breakout song “Independence Day” became an anthem forvictims of abuse, debuted May 31 in Tulsa as a spokeswoman for the National Network to EndDomestic Violence.

She’ll promote the cause during this summer’s all-female tour with Reba McEntire, Sarah Evans, Jaime O’Neal, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

McBride said she never intended “Independence Day,” which is about an abused woman whoburns down her home, to become part of an agenda. But she found her own eyes opened whenbattered women began coming forward after its release to tell her the song spoke for them.

“I think it was what the song was meant to do,” she said.

McBride’s powerful, throaty notes filled a dining hall May 31 at a fund-raiser for Tulsa’sDomestic Violence Intervention Services. Her audience included a woman who had shared herstory of being beaten, kidnapped and raped by her abusive husband.

McBride described her own 13-year marriage as a happy one. The Sharon, Kan., native said shehas never been exposed to domestic violence but has chosen songs about battered womenbecause they are stories that need to be told.

“I’ve been blessed with this wonderful partner and two great kids, but I still have compassion forwomen and children that aren’t so fortunate,” she said. “I think every woman at some point hasfelt helpless at the hands of someone else.”

“Independence Day” stirred controversy long before the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” a songabout killing an abusive husband, was scorned by radio stations. McBride said some radio stations refused to even consider playing her song.

“Once it got started, it kind of hit a nerve,” she said. “But it was hard to get people to play thatsong.”

McBride was at the top of the list when TV Guide went looking for a superstar for the Tulsaevent, which raised funds for domestic violence intervention and prevention services.

“Where traditional country lyrics are `stand-by-your-man-even-if-he’s-drunk-and-crazy,’ here’s acountry western singer who really stepped out of the box,” said Pam McKissick, head of Tulsa-based TV Guide Television Group and TV Guide Networks.

“You watch her sing, and you see the tears in her eyes. She speaks of her compassion forbattered kids and women,” McKissick said.

TV Guide hooked McBride up with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, anorganization of 53 state domestic violence coalitions. The group also lobbies Congress on issuesrelated to domestic violence.

As part of her promotion, cards identifying the signs of domestic abuse will be handed out atMcBride’s concerts.

“I’ve always felt that God gave me this gift that I have,” McBride said. “I’m sure he intended meto use it do more than just walk around in pretty clothes and get my hair and makeup done.”