Reba McEntire

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This article is about the musician and actress. For her self-titled album, see Reba McEntire (album).
Reba McEntire
RebaMcEntireApr10.jpg
Reba McEntire in April 2010
Background information
Birth name Reba Nell McEntire
Also known as Reba
Born (1955-03-28) March 28, 1955 (age 59)
McAlester, Oklahoma, U.S.
Origin Chockie, Oklahoma, U.S.
Genres Country
Occupations Singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, television producer
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar
Years active 1975–present
Labels Mercury, MCA Nashville, Starstruck, Valory
Associated acts Dolly Parton, Red Steagall, Jacky Ward, Pake McEntire, Susie Luchsinger, Vince Gill, Linda Davis, Brooks & Dunn, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Justin Timberlake, Terri Clark
Website Official Website

Reba Nell McEntire (born March 28, 1955) is an American country music singer, songwriter and actress. 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, she performed the National Anthem at the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City and caught the attention of country artist Red Steagall. He brought her to Nashville, Tennessee, where 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.

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 26 studio albums, acquired 40 number one singles, 14 number one albums, and 28 albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America. She has sometimes been referred to as "The Queen of Country".[2] and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 80 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 and in her television sitcom, Reba (2001–2007) 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[edit]

Reba Nell McEntire was born March 28, 1955, in McAlester, Oklahoma, to Jacqueline (née Smith; born November 6, 1927) and Clark Vincent McEntire (born November 30, 1927).[4] She was named for her maternal grandmother Reba Brassfield.[5] Her father and grandfather were both champion steer ropers and her father was a World Champion Steer Roper three times (1957, 1958, and 1961). Her mother had once wanted to be a country-music artist but eventually decided to become a schoolteacher, but she did teach her children how to sing. Young Reba also taught herself how to play the guitar. On car rides home from their father's rodeo shows, the McEntire siblings were taught songs and learned their own harmonies, eventually forming a vocal group called the "Singing McEntires" with her brother, Pake, and her younger sister Susie (her older sister Alice did not participate). Reba played guitar in the group and wrote all the songs. The group sang at rodeos and recorded "The Ballad of John McEntire" together. Released on the indie label Boss, the song pressed one thousand copies.[4] In 1974, McEntire attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University planning to be an elementary school teacher (eventually graduating December 16, 1976[4]). While not attending school, she also continued to sing locally. That same year she was hired to perform the national anthem at the National 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, she signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1975.[6]

Music career[edit]

1976–83: Career launch at Mercury[edit]

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 No. 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 only reached No. 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 number 20 and number 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 1976 she made two albums listed under the genre of 'urban cowboy' instead of 'country.'

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[edit]

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. 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 was later 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 number five on the Billboard country chart. On January 17, 1986, McEntire became a member of the Grand Ole Opry show in Nashville, Tennessee, and has been a member ever 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 number one 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 was later 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 in Washington, D.C., November 2000.

McEntire released a second album in 1986, 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 was 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 number one on the Billboard 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 would eventually expand 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 number one 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 number one 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 number four, seven and two, respectively.[7] In September she released Reba Live, her first live album, which originally certified gold but certified platinum ten 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[edit]

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 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 above sea level, the Hawker aircraft crashed on the side of Otay Mountain, located ten 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 Otay 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]

McEntire dedicated her sixteenth album, For My Broken Heart, to her deceased 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 number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, while also reaching number 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 number one 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[edit]

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 number eight.[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 number five 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 magazine 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 number one and number five 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 number one and number five on the Billboard Top Country Albums and Billboard 200 charts respectively, selling 183,000 copies during Christmas week 1993.[28] Out of the ten tracks were two new singles: the first, "Does He Love You", was a duet with Linda Davis. The song later went on to reach number one 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 would later certify at 5× Multi-Platinum by the RIAA in 1998. The album has gone to sell over 10 million copies world wide, 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 number one 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 number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100, a chart that she had not previously entered.[7] The album itself reached number two on the 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] Because of its subject, the song garnered less of a response from radio and peaked at number 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]

1997–98: What If It's You and "If You See Him"[edit]

McEntire's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

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 number two on the country charts, and its further two singles ("How Was I to Know" and "I'd Rather Ride Around with You") reached number one and number two 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 ten 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 number one 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 number 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 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 number one 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 number eight and number two, respectively.[47]

1999–2001:So Good Together and Greatest Hits Vol. 3: I'm A Survivor[edit]

McEntire (right) in June 1999

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 there.[7] The album would eventually certify 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 would be her last major hit for two years, as McEntire would go 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: Return to the music industry[edit]

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. Writing for The Boston Globe, Steve Morse found the album's material to have a variety of musical stylings, saying the track "Love Revival" sounded like Tanya Tucker and calling "If I Had Any Sense at All" "a mournful country ballad".[49] 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.[50] The album itself reached a peak of number four on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and No. 25 on the Billboard 200, staying at the position for only one week.[51] 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."[52] Its third single, "He Gets That from Me" reached number seven, followed by the Amy Dalley co-written track "My Sister", which reached number 16.[4]

In 2005, McEntire released the compilation Reba No. 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 number 33 and number 60, respectively, with the latter becoming her first single in 27 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.[53] The album reached a peak of number three on the Top Country Albums chart and number 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.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56] 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."[57] The album contained ten tracks of duets with country and pop artists, including Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Trisha Yearwood, Carole King, and Justin Timberlake. Reba: Duets peaked at number one on the Top Country Albums chart, while also becoming her first album in her thirty-year career to peak and debut at number one on the Billboard 200, with 300,536 copies (according to Nielsen Soundscan) sold within its first week of release.[58] On January 17, 2008, McEntire embarked on the 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour with Clarkson, which began in Dayton, Ohio.[59] A month after its release, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 19, 2007.[60] 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.[61]

2008–12: Move to Valory[edit]

McEntire performing in 2008

In early 2008, McEntire partnered again with Brooks & Dunn for a re-recorded version of their single "Cowgirls Don't Cry". McEntire is featured in the video, but not on the version found on the album Cowboy Town. It became McEntire's fifty-sixth Top Ten country hit, breaking Dolly's record for the most Top Ten country hits for a solo female.[62] In November 2008, McEntire announced that she would be departing from her label of twenty-five 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 sixty-seven million records worldwide and won two Grammys.[63] 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."[64] 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.[65] The song debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, giving McEntire the highest single debut of her career,[66] and went on to peak at No. 11. Her twenty-sixth studio album, Keep On Loving You was released August 18, 2009 and became McEntire's first solo studio album in six years.[67] The album gained fairly positive reviews from most album critics, including Jim Malec of The 9513, which gave Keep on Loving You three and a half out of five stars. Malec favored "Strange", calling McEntire's performance of the song "stellar". Criticism was given to the album's fourth track, "I Want a Cowboy", characterizing the song as an "annoying stop-and-go melody and lyrics more befitting a 17-year-old Lila McCann, it is a song so generic and irrelevant that it would be album filler on the worst albums".[68] 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.[69]

On August 18 the label released the album's second single, "Consider Me Gone", and it debuted at number 51 on The Hot Country Single's Chart.[70] The single became McEntire's thirty fourth number one on the Billboard chart in December.[71] With a four-week stay at Number One, this song became the longest-lasting Number One of her career, as well as the first multi-week Number One by a female country singer since Taylor Swift's "Our Song" in 2007.[72] The album's third and final single was "I Keep On Loving You", co-written by Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, which peaked at number 7.

McEntire's thirty-fourth studio album, All the Women I Am, was released on November 9, 2010 under Valory Music Group/Starstruck Records.[73][74] The album's lead single called "Turn On the Radio" was released on August 3, 2010 and the music video premiered on August 18, 2010.[75][76] Upon its release, All the Women I Am received generally positive reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 4 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". On November 10, 2010, McEntire appeared at the Country Music Association Awards performing "If I Were a Boy".[77] On December 20, 2010, McEntire scored her 35th Billboard number one single in the U.S. with "Turn On the Radio".[78] The second single from All the Women I Am was a cover of Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy", which McEntire took to number 22. After it came "When Love Gets a Hold of You" at number 40 and "Somebody's Chelsea" at number 44. The latter was the only single that McEntire had co-written since "Only in My Mind" in 1985.[79] McEntire later announced that she would be visiting 31 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. Dates for the tour were announced July 6, 2011.[80]

On March 1, 2011, the Country Music Association announced that McEntire would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.[81] McEntire was unable to attend the announcement after her father had slipped into a coma following a stroke.[81] McEntire was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 22, 2011 at a Medallion Ceremony that took place at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. She was inducted by one of her musical idols, Dolly Parton.

Grand Ole Opry[edit]

When Reba McEntire made her Grand Ole Opry debut on September 17, 1977, she almost didn’t make it in the door after a guard at the Opry gate missed her name on the night’s list of performers.[82] 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 from Dolly Parton.[82] McEntire was inducted to the Grand Ole Opry on January 17, 1986.[82] “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.”[83]

Acting career[edit]

1989–99: Entrance into film and television acting[edit]

During the late 1980s, many of McEntire's music videos were being described as "mini movies". In each video, she would portray a different character, which distinguished her music videos from other videos released by artists during that time. In the late 1980s, McEntire became interested in an acting career, eventually hiring an agent. In 1989, she co-hosted Good Morning America on ABC.

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.[84][85] The following year, she starred along with Kenny Rogers and Burt Reynolds in the made-for-television movie, The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw. 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.[86]

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.[87] 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.[88] In 1998, she starred as Lizzie Brooks in Forever Love, which was based upon McEntire's hit single of the same name.[89] In 1994, There was a new "The Little Rascals" where McEntire was Guest Starring as A.J. Ferguson.

2000–07: Broadway and television series[edit]

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), McEntire's 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."[90] McEntire personally called the musical, "some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life".[91]

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.[92]

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 and their teenage daughter becomes pregnant.[93] 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.[85] It was cancelled on February 18, 2007; the series finale had 8.7 million viewers.[94]

2011: Return to television[edit]

In September 2011, McEntire confirmed on her website that ABC had ordered a pilot for her second television series, Malibu Country.[95] McEntire would play a divorced mother of two who moves to Malibu, California to restart her music career.[95] 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 then began showing every Friday night at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.[96] On May 11, 2012, McEntire tweeted that the show had been picked up.[97][98] She also was the host in the 2011 NASCAR Award Show in Las Vegas. According to deadline TV reviews Malibu Country stands as TV's most-watched freshman comedy this season (8.7 million). Malibu Country was officially cancelled by ABC on May 10, 2013, after eighteen episodes.

Musical styles and legacy[edit]

McEntire in concert on August 8, 2008.

McEntire's sound has been influenced by the country music of Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, and Patsy Cline.[99] In college, McEntire would sneak into local dances at the OklahomaTexas 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.[100] 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, Adult Contemporary, and R&B. At times, her music has often been criticized for moving away from traditional country music. Many music critics have often 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 often been described by these terms.[6]

McEntire possesses a contralto vocal range[101] and performs "vocal gymnastics" with her voice,[102] a musical technique in which a singer twirls a note around, using their vibrato. McEntire has often credited Dolly Parton for influencing this trait, stating that she would always listen to Parton's records and find her style of vocal gymnastics, "so pretty".[91]

McEntire has often been regarded as one of country music's most influential female vocalists and most beloved entertainers.[6][99] She has also been 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][99] For many new artists, she has been credited as the inspiration to their careers in country music, including Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, and LeAnn Rimes. She has also been credited as an inspiration to other performers such as Sara Evans, Kelly Clarkson, Lee Ann Womack, Terri Clark, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood,[99] 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."[103]

Personal life[edit]

Two of her siblings have also maintained careers in the music industry. Her brother, Pake McEntire, was a successful country artist in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her sister, Susie Luchsinger, is a successful Christian music singer. She also has an older sister, Alice.[104]

In 1976, McEntire married national steer wrestling champion and rancher Charlie Battles. Together, the couple owned a ranch in Oklahoma and managed her career. In 1987, McEntire divorced Battles and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. She later commented to Bob Allen of Country Music about their separation, saying, "I had to pack everything in one day and leave. I was totally starting over." McEntire later claimed that she wanted to focus more on her music career, while Battles insisted that she remain at home, helping to take care of the ranch. McEntire stated, "I wasn't the little girl anymore, taking orders, and doing what he said."

In 1989, McEntire married her manager and former steel guitar player, Narvel Blackstock. The couple wed in a private ceremony on a boat in Lake Tahoe. 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 second marriage, McEntire inherited three stepchildren and gave birth to a son, Shelby Steven McEntire Blackstock, on February 23, 1990. After the couple celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary, McEntire stated that the secrets to her enduring marriage were "Respect, faith, love, trust, and lots of patience".[105]

McEntire in September 2012

McEntire's stepson Brandon Blackstock is married to McEntire's friend and fellow singer Kelly Clarkson, who is also managed by McEntire's husband.[106] Speaking about their impending marriage in 2013, McEntire stated that she was, "thrilled to death, thrilled to death. To have my buddy as my daughter-in-law, I mean, who could ask for more?"[107]

Awards[edit]

Reba holds the record for the most Academy of Country Music Top Female Vocalist Awards (seven), and 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 Reba to win Female Vocalist four years in a row. Reba is also the only female to achieve solo number ones across four decades.

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes Gross Revenue
1990 Tremors Heather Gummer Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress $16,667,084
1994 Maverick Spectator uncredited $183,000,000
1994 North Ma Tex $9,000,000
1994 Little Rascals, TheThe Little Rascals A.J. Ferguson $71,000,000
2001 One Night at McCool's Dr. Green $15,000,000
2006 Fox and the Hound 2, TheThe Fox and the Hound 2 Dixie voice $95,000,000
2006 Charlotte's Web Betsy the Cow voice $145,000,000
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, TheThe Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw Burgundy Jones
1992 Wrestlemania 8 Herself Sang The National Anthem
1993 Man From Left Field, TheThe Man From Left Field Nancy Lee Prinzi
1994 Frasier Rachael Episode: "Fortysomething"
Is There Life Out There Lily Marshall
1995 Buffalo Girls Annie Oakley
1998 Forever Love Lizzie Brooks
Hercules Artemis (voice) Episode: "Hercules and the Falling Stars"

Episode: "Hercules and the Caledonian Boar"

1999 Secret of Giving Rose Cameron
2001–07 Reba Reba Hart People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series (2002)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2004)
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 TV Christmas special
2013 Kelly Clarkson's (Cautionary) Christmas Tale Herself TV Christmas special
Theater
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Annie Get Your Gun Annie Oakley Drama Desk Special Award
Theatre World Award
2006 South Pacific: In Concert from Carnegie Hall Nellie Forbush

See also[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

  • McEntire, Reba (1994). Reba: My Story. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-09607-1. 
  • McEntire, Reba (1999). Comfort from a Country Quilt: Finding New Inspiration and Strength from Old-Fashioned Values. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-10794-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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).

External links[edit]