"Even my dad, who's a tough nut to crack, even cried when he heard that song. And we're Irish Catholic, we're good at denial. So, if he wanted me to do it, then I had to put it on there."
In a further example of McKenna's atypical experience, she wasn't subjected to the standard new artist routine of submitting handfuls of tracks at a time to be either accepted or rejected by the label. With McGraw and Gallimore behind the console and McKenna's proven songwriting track record as a guide, Warner wisely allowed McKenna and her creative team to find the heart of the record without troubling themselves with lesser issues.
"I've been lucky enough to be put in these situations where I can be myself, and the songs can breathe," says McKenna. "I can even be put in these situations with these big commercial dudes and be blessed enough for them to want the songs to shine, too. It's not about radio and all those things. We didn't even talk about that stuff. Byron would just say over and over, 'Just listen to the song.'"
More than a few people have been listening to McKenna's songs, but things haven't changed that much for her fundamentally. The success of Hill's "Fireflies" gave McKenna the means to move her family into a larger house in Stoughton, but Gene still works for the gas company and McKenna is still, to as normal an extent as possible, a hands-on, stay-at-home mom (albeit one with a nanny) - she took her eldest son Brian, a musician, and her two youngest children on the road with her this summer, and she's tried to maintain as much routine as she can.
And just like a mom, she tries to use her success as an object lesson to teach her children a little something about life.
"I don't exactly know how to explain it, but I've just been blessed in so many different ways," says McKenna. "As a mom, it's just so nice to look at your kids and say, 'If you sort of stick your neck out for something you're passionate about, it will reward you at the end of the day.'"
"The only way I can explain how everything's gone down for me is that I'm lucky enough to believe in something that's like a kid almost that loves you back. Kids give you back so much, and that's sort of what music does, too. The biggest change is the presence of new hope, and that has affected all of us. It's been such a gift."