Reba McEntire

Reba Nell McEntire (born March 28, 1955) is an American country singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer. She began her career in the music industry as a high school student singing in the Kiowa High School band,[1] on local radio shows with her siblings, and at rodeos. While a sophomore in college at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, she performed the National Anthem at the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City and caught the attention of country artist Red Steagall who brought her to Nashville, Tennessee. She signed a contract with Mercury Records a year later in 1975. She released her first solo album in 1977 and released five additional studio albums under the label until 1983.

Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire in March 2019
Reba Nell McEntire

(1955-03-28) March 28, 1955
EducationKiowa High School
Alma materSoutheastern Oklahoma State University
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • record producer
Years active1975–present
  • Charlie Battles
    (m. 1976; div. 1987)
  • Narvel Blackstock
    (m. 1989; div. 2015)
ChildrenShelby Blackstock
Musical career
Associated acts

Signing with MCA Nashville Records, McEntire took creative control over her second MCA album, My Kind of Country (1984), which had a more traditional country sound and produced two number one singles: "How Blue" and "Somebody Should Leave". The album brought her breakthrough success, bringing her a series of successful albums and number one singles in the 1980s and 1990s. McEntire has since released 29 studio albums, acquired 42 number one singles, 16 number one albums, and 28 albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America. She often is referred to as "The Queen of Country,"[2] and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.[3]

In the early 1990s, McEntire branched into film starting with 1990's Tremors. She has since starred in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun (2001) and in her television sitcom Reba (2001–07), for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series–Musical or Comedy.[4]

Early life

Reba Nell McEntire was born March 28, 1955 in McAlester, Oklahoma to Jacqueline (née Smith; born November 6, 1926) and Clark Vincent McEntire (November 30, 1927 October 23, 2014).[4][5]

Her father, and her grandfather John Wesley McEntire (February 19, 1897 – February 13, 1976) were both champion steer ropers and her father was a World Champion steer roper three times (in 1957, 1958 and 1961). John McEntire was the son of Clark Stephen McEntire (September 10, 1855 – August 15, 1935) and Helen Florida McEntire (née Brown; May 19, 1868 – May 16, 1947). McEntire's mother had wished to become a country-music artist but instead became a schoolteacher, although she did teach her children how to sing well.

McEntire reportedly taught herself how to play the guitar. On drives home from their father's rodeos, the McEntire siblings learned songs and how to harmonize from their mother, eventually forming a vocal group called the "Singing McEntires" with her brother Pake and younger sister Susie (their elder sister Alice did not participate). McEntire played guitar in the group and wrote all of the songs. The group later sang at rodeos and recorded Reba's song "The Ballad of John McEntire". Released on the indie label Boss, one thousand copies of the early 45 rpm record were pressed, but the recording was not promoted in a full commercial radio-promoted release.[4]

In 1974, McEntire attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University planning to be an elementary school teacher (eventually graduating December 16, 1976[4]). Between classes, she continued to sing at local venues. Also in 1974, McEntire was hired to perform the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Country artist Red Steagall, who was also performing that day, was impressed by her vocal ability and agreed to help her launch a country-music career in Nashville, Tennessee. After recording a demo tape, McEntire signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1975.[6]

Music career

1976–83: Career launch at Mercury

McEntire made her first recordings for Mercury on January 22, 1976, when she released her debut single. Upon its release that year, "I Don't Want to Be a One Night Stand" failed to become a major hit on the Billboard country music chart, peaking at number 88 in May.[7] She completed her second recording session September 16, which included the production of her second single, "(There's Nothing Like The Love) Between a Woman and Man", which reached only number 86 in March 1977. She recorded a third single that April, "Glad I Waited Just for You", which reached number 88 by August. That same month, Mercury issued her self-titled debut album.[4] The album was a departure from any of McEntire's future releases, as it resembled the material of Tanya Tucker and Tammy Wynette, according to AllMusic reviewer Greg Adams.[8] The album itself did not chart the Billboard Top Country Albums chart upon its release.[4][6] After releasing two singles with Jacky Ward ("Three Sheets in the Wind" b/w "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight"; and "That Makes Two of Us" at No. 20 and No. 26, respectively[7]), Mercury issued her second studio album in 1979, Out of a Dream. The album's cover of Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" became McEntire's first Top 20 hit, reaching No. 19 on the Billboard country chart in November 1979.[4][7]

In 1980, "You Lift Me Up (To Heaven)" brought her to the Top 10 for the first time.[9] Her third studio album, Feel the Fire was released in October and spawned two additional Top 20 hit singles that year.[4] In September 1981, McEntire's fourth album, Heart to Heart was issued and became her first album to chart the Billboard Top Country Albums list, peaking at No. 42. Its lead single, "Today All Over Again" became a top five country hit.[4] The album received mainly negative reviews from critics. William Ruhlmann of AllMusic gave it two-and-a-half out of five stars, stating she did not get creative control of her music. Ruhlmann called "There Ain't No Love" "essentially a soft pop ballad".[10] Most of the album's material consisted of mainly country pop-styled ballads, which was not well liked by McEntire herself.[6] Her fifth album, Unlimited was issued in June 1982, and spawned her first Billboard number one single in early 1983: "Can't Even Get the Blues" and "You're the First Time I've Thought About Leaving".[7] The following year her sixth album, Behind the Scene was released and was positively received by music critics. In 1983, McEntire announced her departure from Mercury, criticizing the label's country pop production styles.[4]

1984–90: Breakthrough

McEntire signed with MCA Nashville Records in 1984 and released her seventh studio album, Just a Little Love. Harold Shedd was originally the album's producer; however, McEntire rejected his suggestions towards country pop arrangements. It was instead produced by Norro Wilson, although the album still had a distinguishable country pop sound.[6] Dissatisfied with the album's sound, she went to MCA president, Jimmy Bowen, who told McEntire to find material that was best-suited to her liking. Instead of finding new material, she found previously recorded country hits from her own record collection, which was then recorded for the album. The album's material included songs originally released as singles by Ray Price ("Don't You Believe Her", "I Want to Hear It from You"), Carl Smith ("Before I Met You"), Faron Young ("He's Only Everything") and Connie Smith ("You've Got Me [Right Where You Want Me"]).[11] The album spawned two number-one singles: "How Blue" and "Somebody Should Leave". It was given positive reviews from critics, with Billboard praising McEntire as "the finest woman country singer since Kitty Wells" and Rolling Stone critics honoring her as one of their Top 5 favorite country artists. Upon its release, My Kind of Country became her highest-peaking album on the Top Country Albums chart, reaching No. 13. The album also included instruments such as a fiddle and pedal steel guitar, and was aimed more towards a traditional country sound. McEntire later was praised as a "new traditionalist", along with Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, and Randy Travis. That year, she won the Country Music Association Awards' Female Vocalist of the Year, her first major industry award. The album was certified Gold.[4][11]

In 1985, McEntire released her third MCA album, Have I Got a Deal for You, which followed the same traditional format as My Kind of Country.[12] It was the first album produced by McEntire and was co-produced with Jimmy Bowen. Like her previous release, the album received positive feedback, including Rolling Stone, which called it a "promising debut". The album's second single, "Only in My Mind" was entirely written by McEntire and reached No. 5 on the Billboard country chart. On January 17, 1986, McEntire became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and has remained an active artist-member there since.[13] In February 1986, McEntire's ninth studio album, Whoever's in New England was released. For this album, McEntire and co-producer Jimmy Bowen incorporated her traditional music style into a mainstream sound that was entirely different from anything she had previously recorded. Country Music: The Rough Guide called the production of the title track, "bigger and sentimentalism more obvious, even manipulative".[6] The title track peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance the following year.[7] In addition, the album became McEntire's first release to certify gold in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (and later was certified Platinum). At the end of the year, McEntire won Entertainer of the Year from the Country Music Association, the highest honor in the awards show.[6]

McEntire released a second album in 1986 (her tenth overall), What Am I Gonna Do About You. Allmusic critic William Ruhlmann was not overly pleased with album's production, saying that it lacked the features that had been set forth on Whoever's in New England. Rulhlmann criticized the title track for "something of the feel of 'Whoever's in New England' in its portrayal of a woman trying to recover from a painfully ended love affair".[14] The title track was the lead single from the release and became a number-one single shortly after its release.[7] This album also spawned a second number-one in "One Promise Too Late". The following year, her first MCA compilation, Greatest Hits was released and became her first album to be certified platinum in sales, eventually certifying triple-platinum.[4] A twelfth studio album, The Last One to Know, was released in 1987. The emotions of her divorce from husband, Charlie Battles, were put into the album's material, according to McEntire. The title track from the release was a number-one single in 1987 and the second single, "Love Will Find Its Way to You", also reached the top spot. In late 1987, McEntire released her first Christmas collection, Merry Christmas to You, which sold two million copies in the United States, certifying double Platinum.[9] The album included cover versions of "Away in a Manger", "Silent Night", and Grandpa Jones's "The Christmas Guest".[15]

Her thirteenth album, Reba, was issued in 1988 and was not well received by critics, who claimed she was moving farther away from her "traditional country" sound. Stereo Review disliked the album's contemporary style, stating, "After years of insisting that she'd stick to hard-core country 'because I have tried the contemporary-type songs, and it's not Reba McEntire—it's just not honest', McEntire...has gone whole-hog pop. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and remained there for six consecutive weeks. Okay, so maybe that's not so terrible." Although it was reviewed poorly, the album itself was certified platinum in sales and produced two number-one singles: "I Know How He Feels" and "New Fool at an Old Game".[7] In addition, the release's cover version of Jo Stafford's "A Sunday Kind of Love" became a Top 5 hit on the Billboard country music chart.[16] Also in 1988, McEntire founded Starstruck Entertainment, which controlled her management, booking, publishing, promotion, publicity, accounting, ticket sales, and fan club administration. The company eventually expanded into managing a horse farm, jet charter service, trucking, construction, and book publishing.

McEntire's fourteenth studio album, Sweet Sixteen, was released in May 1989; it spent sixteen weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, while also becoming her first album to peak in the top 100 on the Billboard 200, reaching No. 78. The album was given positive reviews because unlike her previous studio album, the release, "welcomes the fiddles and steel guitars back as she returns to the neo-traditionalist fold", according to Allmusic, which gave the release four-and-a-half out of five stars. Reviewer William Ruhlmann found Sweet Sixteen to "double back to a formula that worked for her in the past". The lead single was a cover of The Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown", with McEntire's version reaching No. 1 in July on the Billboard country music chart. Three more Top 10 hits followed from Sweet Sixteen: "Till Love Comes Again", "Little Girl", and "Walk On", at No. 4, 7 and 2, respectively.[7] In September she released Reba Live, her first live album, which originally certified gold but certified platinum 10 years later.[17][4]

Sixteen months after the release of Sweet Sixteen and after giving birth to her son, McEntire transitioned into 1990 with the release of Rumor Has It. The album's "sound and production were almost entirely pop-oriented", according to Kurt Wolff of Country Music: The Rough Guide.[6] Although Rumor Has It was an attempt to receive critical praise, many reviewers found the album to be "predictable". Stereo Review mainly found the recording displeasing in some places, but the reviewer also believed she "still leaves most of the competition in the dust", calling the album "glorious". Rumor Has It eventually sold three million copies by 1999, certifying triple-platinum by that year. It was prefaced by the single "You Lie", which became her fifteenth number-one single on the country chart.[7] In addition, the album's cover of Bobbie Gentry's 1969 hit "Fancy" and a new track, "Fallin' Out of Love", became Top 10 hits on the same Billboard country chart.[18]

1991: Aviation accident and For My Broken Heart

While on tour for her 1990 album, McEntire lost eight members of her band; (Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Anthony Saputo, and Michael Thomas), plus pilot Donald Holmes and co-pilot Chris Hollinger, when their charter jet plane (one of two for the band) crashed near San Diego, California, in the early morning of March 16, 1991. The accident occurred after McEntire's private performance for IBM executives the night before. The first plane was a Hawker Siddeley DH-125-1A/522 charter jet, believed to have taken off around 1:45 AM from the Brown Field Municipal Airport, located near the border of Mexico. After reaching an altitude of about 3,572 feet (1,089 m) above sea level, the aircraft crashed on the side of Otay Mountain, located 10 miles east of the airport, while the second plane (carrying her other band members) did not crash. The accident was believed to have occurred due to poor visibility near the mountain, which was not considered "prohibitive" for flying. The news was reported nearly immediately to McEntire and her husband, who were sleeping at a nearby hotel. A spokeswoman for McEntire at the time stated in the Los Angeles Times that "she was very close to all of them. Some of them had been with her for years. Reba is totally devastated by this. It's like losing part of your family. Right now she just wants to get back to Nashville."[19]

Despite the tragedy, McEntire performed just days later on March 25, 1991 at the 63rd Academy Awards ceremony, performing the Best Original Song nominee "I'm Checkin' Out" from the film Postcards from the Edge. McEntire dedicated her sixteenth album, For My Broken Heart, to the deceased members of her road band. Released in October 1991, it contained songs of sorrow and lost love about "all measure of suffering",[20] according to Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly. Nash reported that McEntire "still hits her stride with the more traditional songs of emotional turmoil, above all combining a spectacular vocal performance with a terrific song on 'Buying Her Roses', a wife's head-spinning discovery of her husband's other woman."[20] The release peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, while also reaching No. 13 on the Billboard 200,[21] and eventually sold four million copies. Its title track became McEntire's sixteenth number-one, followed by "Is There Life Out There", which also reached No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart.[4] The third single, "The Greatest Man I Never Knew", peaked in the Top 5 and her cover of Vicki Lawrence's "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" reached No. 12.[7] "If I Had Only Known", a cut from this album, was later included in the soundtrack to the 1994 film 8 Seconds.[7]

1992–96: Continued success

In December 1992, McEntire's seventeenth studio album, It's Your Call, was released. It became her first album to peak within the Billboard 200 Top 10, reaching No. 8.[22] McEntire commented that the record was a "second chapter" to For My Broken Heart,[23] while music reviewers such as Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly disagreed, writing "In truth, it isn't nearly as pessimistic as its predecessor—and unfortunately it isn't anywhere as involving." Nash called the album's title track—which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart—"one of those moment-of-truth sagas at which McEntire excels. In the song, a wife answers the phone to find her husband's girlfriend on the other end and seizes the opportunity not only to inform her mate that she knows of his affair but to give him the ultimatum of choosing between the two. She's not the only one who's waitin' on the line, she sings, handing her husband the phone. It's your call."[24][25]

Christopher John Farley of Time wrote that the album ranged from being "relaxing" to "cathartic", and "these vocals from one of the best country singers linger in the mind".[26] The album's preceding singles—"The Heart Won't Lie" (a duet with then-labelmate Vince Gill) and "Take It Back"—were Top 10 hits on the Billboard country chart, reaching No. 1 and No. 5 respectively.[24] Like its preceding album, It's Your Call sold over a million copies, eventually certifying by the RIAA in sales of double-platinum.[27]

In October 1993, McEntire's third compilation album, Greatest Hits Volume Two was released, reaching No. 1 and No. 5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums and Billboard 200 charts respectively, selling 183,000 copies during Christmas week 1993.[28] Out of the 10 tracks were two new singles: the first, "Does He Love You", was a duet with Linda Davis. The song later reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and win both women a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.[7] Its second single, "They Asked About You", was also a Top 10 hit. The additional eight songs were some of McEntire's biggest hit singles during a course of five years including "The Last One to Know", "I Know How He Feels", "Cathy's Clown", and "The Heart Won't Lie".[29] After originally selling two million copies upon its initial release (2× Multi-Platinum), Greatest Hits Volume Two later certified at 5× Multi-Platinum by the RIAA in 1998. The album has gone to sell over 10 million copies worldwide, which makes it McEntire's best selling album to date.[30]

Her eighteenth studio release was 1994's Read My Mind. The album spawned five major hit singles onto the Billboard Country chart, including the No. 1 single "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter". The further releases ("Till You Love Me", "Why Haven't I Heard from You", and "And Still") became Top 10 singles on the same chart,[31] with "Till You Love Me" also reaching No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100, a chart that she had not previously entered.[7] The album itself reached No. 2 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts.[32] Charlotte Dillon of Allmusic gave the album four out of five stars, calling it "another wonderful offering of songs performed by the gifted country singer Reba McEntire". Dillon also felt that the album's material had "a little soul, a little swing, and some pop, too".[33]

Entertainment Weekly's Alanna Nash also gave the album positive feedback, viewing the album to have "enough boiling rhythms and brooding melodies to reflect the anger and disillusionment of the middle class in the '90s", calling the track "She Thinks His Name Was John" to be the best example of that idea.[34] The song was eventually spawned as a single and was considered controversial for its storyline, which described a woman who contracts AIDS from a one-night stand.[35] Due to its subject matter, the song garnered less of a response from radio and peaked at No. 15.[4] Read My Mind became another major seller for McEntire and her label, selling three million copies by 1995 and certifying at 3× Multi-Platinum from the RIAA.[36]

After many years of releasing studio albums of newly recorded material, McEntire's nineteenth studio album, Starting Over (1995) was collection of her favorite songs originally recorded by others from the 1950s through the early 1980s. The album was made to commemorate twenty years in the music industry, but many music critics gave it a less positive response than her previous release.[37] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that although the album was considered a "rebirth" for McEntire, he thought that some tracks were recorded for merely "nothing more than entertainment".[38] The album paid tribute to many of McEntire's favorite artists and included cover versions of "Talking In Your Sleep" originally sung by Crystal Gayle, "Please Come to Boston", "I Won't Mention It Again" sung by Ray Price, "Starting Over Again", cowritten by Donna Summer and originally a hit for Dolly Parton, "On My Own", and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix".[6] "On My Own" featured guest vocals from Davis, as well as Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood.[7]

Despite negative reviews, Starting Over was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America within the first two months of its release,[39] but only one single—a cover of Lee Greenwood's "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands"—was a Top 10 hit single.[40]

1997–2002: Musical shifts and new opportunities

McEntire made a major comeback into the music industry the following year with her twentieth studio album, What If It's You.[41] The album's lead single, "The Fear of Being Alone" reached No. two on the country charts, and its further two singles ("How Was I to Know" and "I'd Rather Ride Around with You") reached No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.[4] The release garnered higher critical acclaim than Starting Over, with Thom Owens of Allmusic calling the album "nevertheless an excellent reminder of her deep talents as a vocalist".[42] MCA Nashville chairman Bruce Hinton told Billboard how pleased he was with McEntire's release, calling the album's 10 tracks "powerful" and concluding by stating "There are so many writers and so many great songs in Nashville, and Reba has collected her disproportionate share[...]She's country music's female artist of the 90's." What If It's You peaked at No. 1 Top Country Albums and No. 15 on the Billboard 200, while also becoming her first album in three years to certify in multi-platinum sales, selling two million copies by 1999.[43][44] At the end of 1997, McEntire also charted at No. 23 the charity single "What If". The proceeds of sales for this single were donated to the Salvation Army.[7]

In 1997, McEntire headlined a tour with Brooks & Dunn that led to the recording of "If You See Him/If You See Her" with the duo the following year.[41] This song was included on McEntire's If You See Him album and Brooks & Dunn's If You See Her album, both of which were released on June 2.[45] Thom Owens of AllMusic reported in its review that both album titles were named nearly the same as "a way to draw attention for both parties, since they were no longer new guns—they were veterans in danger of losing ground to younger musicians".[46] The duet reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in June 1998 and spawned an additional three Top 10 hits during that year: "Forever Love", "Wrong Night", and "One Honest Heart".[7] In addition, If You See Him peaked within the Top 10 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums chart, reaching No. 8 and No. 2, respectively.[47]

In 1999, McEntire released two albums. In September she issued her second Christmas album, The Secret of Giving: A Christmas Collection, which eventually sold 500,000 copies in the United States. In November, her twenty-second studio album, So Good Together was released, spawning three singles. The first release, "What Do You Say" and the second release, "I'll Be" both reached the Top 5 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. So Good Together also brought her into the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, peaking at No. 31.[7] The album eventually certified Platinum by the end of the decade.[4] What Do You Say became her first crossover hit as well. Unlike any of her previous albums, So Good Together was produced by three people, including McEntire. Entertainment Weekly commented that most of the album's material was "an odd set—mostly ballads, including an English/Portuguese duet with Jose e Durval on Boz Scaggs' 'We're All Alone'".[48]

In 2001, McEntire returned with her third greatest-hits album: Greatest Hits Vol. 3: I'm a Survivor. The album helped McEntire receive her third gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, which made her the most certified female country artist in music history. It spawned the number-three hit "I'm a Survivor", which was her last major hit for two years, as McEntire went on a temporary hiatus to focus on her television sitcom, Reba.[41] The album's only other single, a cover of Kenny Rogers' "Sweet Music Man", went to No. 36.[7]

2003–07: Nashville comeback

McEntire's seventy-sixth chart single, "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain", released in mid-2003, ended her two-year break from recording.[41] In November 2003, her twenty-third studio album, Room to Breathe, marked her first release of new material in four years. Dan MacIntosh of Country Standard Time gave Room to Breathe a less-received review, reporting that "it ultimately falls short of leaving the listener breathless". He highlighted "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain" for sounding like a Bluegrass-inspired song such as music by Ricky Skaggs or Patty Loveless.[49] The album itself reached a peak of No. 4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 25 on the Billboard 200, staying at the position for only one week.[50] The second single, "Somebody", also recorded by Mark Wills on his "Loving Every Minute" release, became her twenty-second number-one single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and first since "If You See Him/If You See Her" six years previous. This became her thirty-third number-one single overall.[7] It took longer than expected to become a hit, according to McEntire, who said, "Yeah, that had us concerned. The album came out in November and it took 30 weeks for "Somebody" to work its way up the charts. Usually, it's 15 weeks. But this one had a resurgence of life, especially after the video came out. MCA is really kicking butt with it."[51] Its third single, "He Gets That from Me" reached No. 7, followed by the Amy Dalley co-written track "My Sister", which reached No. 16.[4]

In 2005, McEntire released the compilation Reba 1's. The album comprised all thirty-three number-one hits in her career on all major trade charts. Two new songs were included on the album: "You're Gonna Be" and "Love Needs a Holiday". Both were released as singles, peaking at No. 33 and No. 60, respectively, with the latter becoming her first single in twenty-seven years to miss the country top 40 entirely.[7] Country Standard Time called the tracks "Whoever's in New England" and "You Lie" the album highlights.[52] The album reached a peak of No. 3 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 12 on the Billboard 200 upon its release, certifying 2× Platinum by the RIAA within two years. On August 30, 2007, McEntire received two CMA nominations: Female Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year. With those two nominations plus another in 2008 and two more in 2009, McEntire became the female artist with the most nominations (forty-eight) in the forty-three year history of the CMA Awards, surpassing Dolly Parton, who has forty-three.[53]

In mid-2007, McEntire announced the release of her twenty-fifth studio album, Reba: Duets, on September 18. McEntire stated that out of all the albums she had previously recorded, her newest release was particularly special: "This is an album that will go down in history as probably my favorite album to record because I got to work and sing and be with my friends. Out of everything in this whole career that I can say that I'm the most proud of, are my friends. And here's the proof." In promotion for the album, McEntire made appearances at radio shows and on The Oprah Winfrey Show September 19.[54] The album's lead single, "Because of You"—a duet with Kelly Clarkson, who originally recorded the song—became her fifty-fifth Top 10 single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, tying her with Dolly Parton, who also had the same amount of Top 10 records.[55] The album was given high critical praise from magazines such as PopMatters, which called McEntire's vocals, "to sound sweet without being syrupy, while being extremely powerful. McEntire's vocal strength yields a different kind of authority than the bluesy, drawling growl of Janis Joplin, the weathered rasp of Marianne Faithfull, or even the soul-shrieking powerhouse of Tina Turner. Instead, Reba's voice combines the aspects of all three singers but tempers it with a Southern sweetness and an unmistakable femininity."[56] The album contained 10 tracks of duets with country and pop artists, including Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Trisha Yearwood, Carole King, and Justin Timberlake. Reba: Duets peaked at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart, while also becoming her first album in her thirty-year career to peak and debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with 300,536 copies (according to Nielsen Soundscan) sold within its first week of release.[57] On January 17, 2008, McEntire embarked on the 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour with Clarkson, which began in Fairborn, Ohio and ended in November of the same year.[58] A month after its release, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 19, 2007.[59] The album's only other single was "Every Other Weekend". Recorded on the album as a duet with Chesney, it was released to radio with its co-writer, Skip Ewing, as a duet partner.

2008–15: Record label switch and middle age success

In November 2008, McEntire announced that she would be departing from her label of 25 years and signing with the Valory Music Group, an imprint of Big Machine Records (coincidentally distributed by MCA and Mercury's parent, Universal Music Group). Under MCA, she had sold a total of 67 million records worldwide and won two Grammys.[60] The switch to Valory reunited McEntire with the label's president, Scott Borchetta, who had worked as senior vice president of promotion at MCA during most of the 1990s. McEntire later commented on her label switch, stating "I am thrilled to be joining the Valory team. Scott and I worked together on some of the biggest singles of my career, and I am excited to renew our partnership."[61] In November 2008, MCA released a 50 Greatest Hits box set compilation album, containing three CDs, from 1984's "How Blue" to 2007's "Because of You". On April 5, 2009, McEntire debuted her first single, "Strange", on Valory at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards.[62] The song debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, giving McEntire the highest single debut of her career, and went on to peak at number eleven. Her twenty-sixth studio album, Keep On Loving You was released in August 2009, and became McEntire's first solo studio album in six years.[63] The album gained fairly positive reviews from most album critics. On August 26, Keep on Loving You became McEntire's second album to top both the Billboard Country and 200 charts, selling almost 96,000 copies within its first week. With the album, McEntire broke the record for the female country artist with the most Billboard number-one albums, which was previously held by Loretta Lynn.[64] Later that summer, the label released the album's second single, "Consider Me Gone", and it debuted at No. 51 on The Hot Country Single's Chart. The single became McEntire's thirty-fourth number-one on the Billboard chart in December.[65]

McEntire's twenty-ninth studio album, All the Women I Am, was released in November 2010, under Valory Music Group/Starstruck Records.[66][67] The album's lead single called "Turn On the Radio" was released in August 2010, and the music video premiered shortly afterward.[68][69] Upon its release, All the Women I Am received generally positive reviews from most music critics.[70] On December 20, 2010, McEntire had her 35th Billboard number-one single with "Turn On the Radio".[71] The second single from All the Women I Am was a cover of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy", which McEntire took to No. 22. After it came "When Love Gets a Hold of You" at No. 40 and "Somebody's Chelsea" at No. 44. The latter was the only single that McEntire had co-written since "Only in My Mind" in 1985.[72] McEntire later announced that she would be visiting 30 one cities on her All the Women I Am Tour, late that year with The Band Perry, Steel Magnolia, and Edens Edge as opening acts on different stops of the tour.[73]

On October 21, 2014, it was announced that McEntire would be the inaugural signing for Big Machine's new imprint Nash Icon Music. She also disclosed that she was working on a new album, with 11 new songs.[74] Her first single for the new label, "Going Out Like That", was announced in December 2014 and was released in January 2015.[75] It served as the lead-off single to Love Somebody, McEntire's twenty-seventh studio album, released on April 14, 2015.[76] Love Somebody debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums—her twelfth number-one album on the chart—and No. 3 on Billboard 200, selling 62,469 copies in the U.S.[77] The album has sold 171,600 copies in the U.S. as of October 5, 2015.[78] McEntire released her third Christmas album My Kind of Christmas on September 2, 2016. The album was exclusively sold at Cracker Barrel and online. She also announced she would soon be selling her own line of clothing, home decor, jewelry and other things under the "Rockin' R by Reba" line also at Cracker Barrel.[79][80]

2017–present: New beginnings in her 60s

After her split from ex-husband Narvel Blackstock, McEntire took control of her career as her own manager. She recruited Justin McIntosh of Starstruck Entertainment, Leslie Matthews serving as Brand Manager, and Carolyn Snell who has been with McEntire for nine years. They formed Reba's Business Inc. (RBI).[81] She moved out of the building she and Blackstock had worked in, and moved her company to Green Hills, Nashville.[82]

On December 15, 2016, McEntire announced that she was releasing her first gospel album titled Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. It was released by Nash Icon/Rockin' R Records on February 3, 2017, and consists of two discs. Disc one contains traditional hymns while disc two contains original tracks. "Softly and Tenderly", featuring Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood, was the first track off the album released. Another track on the album, "In the Garden/Wonderful Peace", features The Isaacs. Jay DeMarcus of the Rascal Flatts produced the album.[83] The first single off the album is "Back to God".[84] In January 2018, McEntire won the Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album, her first nomination since 2007, and her first Grammy Award win in more than twenty years, since 1994. She also headlined the C2C: Country to Country festival in the UK alongside Brad Paisley and Zac Brown Band in March. Because of its limited release in 2016, on October 13, 2017 My Kind of Christmas was re-released - this time including songs with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Darius Rucker and Lauren Daigle - on her website and through iTunes.[85] In July 2018, it was announced that McEntire would be one of four honorees for the 41st annual Kennedy Center Honors, along with Cher, Philip Glass, and Wayne Shorter. The creators of the musical Hamilton will also be celebrated. The ceremony will be held December 2, 2018 and broadcast on CBS December 26, 2018.[86]

McEntire released her twenty-ninth studio album Stronger Than the Truth on April 5, 2019.[87] McEntire also returned to host the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards on April 8, 2019.[88]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed McEntire among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[89]

Acting career

1989–99: Entry into film and television acting

In 1990, she obtained her first film role playing Heather Gummer in the horror comedy Tremors, along with Kevin Bacon. The film told the story of a small group of people living in Nevada who were fighting subterranean worm-like creatures. After the film's release, McEntire developed a strong interest in acting and made it her second career. The film earned McEntire a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 1991 Saturn Awards.[90][91] The following year, she starred along with Kenny Rogers and Burt Reynolds in the made-for-television movies The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw and The Man From Left Field. In 1994, McEntire worked with director Rob Reiner in the film North, playing Ma Tex. The film obtained negative reviews, receiving only two and a half stars from Allmovie.[92]

In 1994, McEntire starred in Is There Life Out There?, a television movie based on her song of the same name. The following year, she appeared in Buffalo Girls, which was based upon the life of western cowgirl, Calamity Jane (played by Anjelica Huston). Playing Jane's friend, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Girls was nominated for an Emmy award.[93] In 1996, McEntire was cast by director James Cameron as Molly Brown in his film Titanic. However, when it became apparent production for the film would extend well beyond its original length, McEntire had to turn down the part, as she had already scheduled prior concert engagements. The role was recast with Kathy Bates.[94] In 1998, she starred as Lizzie Brooks in Forever Love, which was based upon McEntire's hit single of the same name.[95]

2000–07: Broadway and television series

In early 2001, McEntire expanded into theater, starring in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Playing Annie Oakley (whom she had previously portrayed in Buffalo Girls), her performance was critically acclaimed by several newspapers, including The New York Times, which commented "Without qualification the best performance by an actress in a musical comedy this season."[96] McEntire personally called the musical, "some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life".[97]

In 2005, McEntire starred as Nellie Forbush in the Carnegie Hall concert production of the Broadway musical South Pacific with Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis and Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile de Becque, directed by Walter Bobbie and with an adapted script by David Ives. The concert was broadcast as part of the Great Performances series in 2006.[98]

In October 2001, McEntire premiered her half-hour television sitcom Reba on the WB network. The show was based around divorced mother Reba Hart, who learns how to handle life situations after her husband divorces her in order to marry his dental hygienist––with whom he's been cheating and gotten pregnant––and then their teenage daughter becomes pregnant as well.[99] Reba garnered critical acclaim and success, becoming the network's highest-rated television show for adults ranging from the ages of eighteen to forty nine. The show ran for six seasons and earned McEntire a nomination for a Golden Globe award.[91] It was cancelled on February 18, 2007; the series finale had 8.7 million viewers.[100]

2011–13: Brief television return and current projects

In September 2011, McEntire confirmed on her website that ABC had ordered a pilot for her second television series Malibu Country.[101] McEntire played a divorced mother of two who moves to Malibu, California to restart her music career.[101] The pilot was filmed in April 2012 and began production on its first season in August. It was announced that the pilot for Malibu Country would premiere November 2, 2012. The show was broadcast Friday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.[102] On May 11, 2012, McEntire tweeted that the show had been picked up.[103] She also was the host in the 2011 NASCAR Award Show in Las Vegas.

Despite reports that Malibu Country was the most-watched freshman comedy in its debut season (8.7 million),[104] the show was canceled on May 10, 2013, after eighteen episodes.

In January 2017, it was announced that McEntire would star and produce a Southern drama series for ABC titled Red Blooded.[105][106] It was reported in May that ABC ultimately turned down the show, so it moved to being shopped around to other networks.[107] In January 2018, Reba was chosen to portray KFC's first female Colonel Sanders. The commercials ran through the end of April 2018.[108]

Musical styles and legacy

McEntire's sound has been influenced by the country music of Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, and Patsy Cline.[109] In college, McEntire attended local dances at the Oklahoma–Texas border so she could dance to Wills's music, commenting that, "it didn't get any better than dancing to Bob Wills music". She also explained Merle Haggard's influence on her career, stating "I had every album he ever put out", and would sing "every song he did", along with her brother, Pake and sister, Susie. In addition, her first major hit, "Sweet Dreams" was a remake of Patsy Cline's version of the song, according to McEntire herself.[110]

McEntire's music has been described to not only be built upon traditional country music, but also expand into the genres of country pop, mainstream pop, soul, and R&B. At times, her music has been criticized for moving away from traditional country music. Many music critics have called her music to be "melodramatic", "formulaic", and "bombastic", particularly after her 1988 album Reba. Studio releases such as Sweet Sixteen, Rumor Has It, It's Your Call, and Starting Over have been described by these terms.[6]

McEntire possesses a contralto vocal range[111] and performs "vocal gymnastics" with her voice,[112] a musical technique in which a singer twirls a note around, using their vibrato. McEntire has credited Dolly Parton for influencing this trait, stating that she always listened to Parton's records and find her style of vocal gymnastics "so pretty".[97]

McEntire often has been regarded as one of country music's more influential female vocalists and most beloved entertainers.[6][109] She is highly credited for remaining one of country's most popular female artists for nearly four decades, maintaining her success by continually incorporating contemporary musical sounds without changing her traditional vocal style.[41][109] For numerous artists, she has been credited as an inspiration to their careers in music.[109] The Net Music Countdown second-handedly reported, "That influence has manifested itself in many ways. As a role model, she's shown others how to handle fame with grace and good humor while never backing down from her values or goals. Just as importantly, she's shown others to refuse to accept limitations on what she can do or how much she can achieve." McEntire also explained to the online website, "Whatever I'm doing, I feel like I'm representing country music". "It's always been my main career, and it's where my loyalties lie. I feel like I'm waving the flag of country music wherever I go, and I couldn't be prouder to do it."[113]

Personal life

Two of her siblings have also had careers in the music industry. Her brother Pake dabbled in the country music industry in the late 1980s but returned to Oklahoma after a brief stint. He owns and operates a 1,000 acre ranch near Coalgate, Oklahoma, and continues to rodeo. Her sister Susie McEntire-Eaton (Martha Susan "Susie" McEntire-Eaton, formerly Luchsinger) is a successful Christian music singer who travels the country with her husband, speaking and performing. She also has an older sister, Alice Foran, a retired social worker who resides in Lane, Oklahoma. Her niece Calamity McEntire is an assistant basketball coach at the University of Dayton.[114]

In 1976, McEntire married steer wrestling champion and rancher Charlie Battles who was 10 years her senior and had two sons from his previous marriage. The couple shared a ranch in Oklahoma. In 1987, McEntire divorced Battles and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to further pursue her career.[115][116][117] In 1989, McEntire married her manager and former steel guitar player, Narvel Blackstock. The couple wed at Lake Tahoe on a boat in a private ceremony. Together, the pair took over all aspects of McEntire's career, forming Starstruck Entertainment, which was originally designed to help manage her career. From her marriage to Blackstock, McEntire inherited three stepchildren - Chassidy, Shawna, and Brandon - and then gave birth to a son, Shelby Steven McEntire Blackstock, in February 1990. On August 3, 2015, it was announced in a joint statement on McEntire's website that she and Blackstock had been separated for a few months after twenty-six years of marriage.[118] McEntire announced in December 2015 that their divorce had been finalized on October 28, 2015. Despite the divorce, McEntire remains very close to her three stepchildren as well as the Blackstock family; she considers her stepchildren's six children to be her grandchildren.[119]

McEntire's stepson Brandon Blackstock is married to singer Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson gave birth to their first child, a daughter named River, on June 12, 2014. They had their second child, a son named Remington “Remy”, on April 12, 2016.[120] Speaking about their impending marriage in 2013, McEntire stated she was "Thrilled to death, to have my buddy as my daughter-in-law. I mean, who could ask for more?"[121] McEntire is a Christian, and she has stated that her faith in God has helped her immensely throughout her life.[122]

In 2017, McEntire began a relationship with photographer Anthony "Skeeter" Lasuzzo. The couple met through McEntire's association with Kix Brooks. In describing her feelings about Lasuzzo, she stated, "We're totally in love — absolutely," she says. "I wouldn’t put up with somebody for two years if I wasn’t in love with 'em!"[123] As of November 2019, McEntire has confirmed that she is no longer with Lasuzzo after two years of dating.[124]

In 1992, she opened Reba's Ranch House in Denison, TX.[125] Similar to a Ronald McDonald House, the house incorporates holistic care by providing a calm setting for rest, warm meals for nourishment and sensitive staff for spiritual connections to guests who have loved ones being treated at the nearby Texoma Medical Center. Over the course of her career, she has been and continues to be an active supporter of various charitable organizations including Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Feeding America and Celebrity Fight Night. She has been honored with the Minnie Pearl Award, the ACM Home Depot Humanitarian Award and the Andrea Bocelli Foundation Humanitarian Award for her efforts. In 2018, she was honored with the Horatio Alger Award for Education, Charity Work. Named after the "rags to riches" writer, the award recognizes perseverance and giving back.[126][127][128]


McEntire has the second most wins for the Academy of Country Music's Top Female Vocalist Awards with seven. McEntire holds the record American Music Awards for Favorite Country Female Artist (twelve). She also holds the distinction of being the first to win the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year Award four times consecutively. Martina McBride won Female Vocalist four times, although not consecutively. In 2013, Miranda Lambert tied McEntire to win Female Vocalist four years in a row and in 2016 Carrie Underwood joined this elite club by winning her fourth Female Vocalist award. McEntire is also a rare musical artist to achieve solo number-ones across four decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s). She holds the record for most CMA Award nominations for a female artist, with 50. McEntire also holds the record with the most ACM Awards nominations for a female artist with 47, respectively.[129] In December 2018, McEntire received the Kennedy Center Honor.[130] McEntire's stepdaughter-in-law Kelly Clarkson performed McEntire's song "Fancy" as a tribute to her at the ceremony.[131]

When Reba McEntire made her Grand Ole Opry debut on September 17, 1977, she almost did not make it in the door after a guard at the Opry gate missed her name on the night's list of performers.[132] Her parents and older sister, Alice, drove 1,400 miles round trip from their Oklahoma home to see what turned out to be Reba's three-minute performance that night. Her act was cut from two songs to just one—"Invitation to the Blues"—because of a surprise appearance by Dolly Parton.[132] McEntire was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 17, 1986.[132] "The Grand Ole Opry is a home," she says. "It's a family. It's like a family reunion, when you come back and get to see everybody."[133]

In 2011, the Country Music Association announced that McEntire would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.[134] McEntire was unable to attend the announcement after her father had slipped into a coma following a stroke.[134]


Studio albums


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Tremors Heather Gummer
1994 Maverick Spectator Uncredited
1994 North Ma Tex
1994 The Little Rascals A.J. Ferguson
2001 One Night at McCool's Dr. Green
2006 The Fox and the Hound 2 Dixie Voice role
2006 Charlotte's Web Betsy the Cow Voice role
2015 Romances of the Republics Stella Wonders
2016 The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave[135] Etta Voice role
2019 Spies in Disguise[136] Voice role
Year Title Role Notes
1985-2012, 2018–present Academy of Country Music Awards Herself (co-host) with Vince Gill
1991 The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw Burgundy Jones Movie
1992 WrestleMania VIII Herself (performer) Sang the national anthem
1993 The Man from Left Field Nancy Lee Prinzi Movie
1994 Frasier Rachel (voice) Episode: "Fortysomething"
1994 Is There Life Out There? Lily Marshall Movie
1995 Buffalo Girls Annie Oakley Miniseries
1998 Forever Love Lizzie Brooks Movie
1998 Hercules Artemis (voice) 2 episodes
1999 Secret of Giving Rose Cameron Movie
2001–07 Reba Reba Hart 126 episodes
2010 Better with You Lorraine Ashley Episode: "Better With Flirting"
2011 Working Class Renee Episode: "Sugar Mama"
2012–13 Malibu Country Reba McKenzie 18 episodes
2012 Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas Herself (performer) Special
2013 Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale Herself (performer) Special
2015–16 Baby Daddy Charlotte 2 episodes
2015 Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris Herself (guest announcer) Episode: "Reba"
2015 Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Herself (performer) Special
2015 The Voice Herself (advisor) Multiple episodes
2016 Last Man Standing Billie Cassidy Episode: "Outdoor Woman"
2016 America's Got Talent Herself (guest judge) Episode: "Judge Cuts 2"
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Annie Get Your Gun Annie Oakley
2006 South Pacific: In Concert from Carnegie Hall Nellie Forbush

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Further reading

  • Bufwack, Mary A. (1998). "Reba McEntire". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 339 (birth year listed as 1954).

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