Reba Nell McEntire (born March 28, 1955) is a Grammy award-winning American country music artist. She began her career in the music industry singing with her siblings on local radio shows and rodeos. As a solo act, she was invited to perform at a rodeo in Oklahoma City, which caught the attention of country artist Red Steagall. He brought her to Nashville, Tennessee, where she eventually signed a contract with Mercury Records 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 twenty five studio albums, acquired twenty two number one singles, and twenty eight albums have been certified Gold, Platinum, or Multi-Platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America.
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 starred 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 . She has sometimes been referred to as "The Queen of Country," having sold forty one million records in the United States and fifty million worldwide. She ranks as the seventh best-selling female artist in all genres and is the second best-selling female country artist of all time.
Reba Nell McEntire was born on March 28, 1955, outside of Kiowa, Oklahoma to Jacqueline Smith and Clark Vincent McEntire. Her father and grandfather were champion steer ropers and her father was a World Champion Steer Roper three times (1957, 1958, and 1961). Her mother was a schoolteacher, but originally had plans to become a country music artist, however she decided not to professionally pursue it. Instead, McEntire's mother taught her children how to sing. On car rides home from her father's rodeo trips, the McEntire siblings were taught songs and learned their own harmonies, eventually forming a vocal group called the "Singing McEntires." Consisting of her brother, Pake and her younger sister, Susie (her older sister, Alice did not participate), the group sang at rodeos and recorded a song together titled, "The Ballad of John McEntire." Released on the Indie label, Boss, the song pressed one thousand copies. In 1974, McEntire attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University and intended on becoming an elementary school teacher (eventually graduating December 16, 1976). While not attending school, she also continued to sing locally. That same year she was also invited to perform the national anthem at an Oklahoma City rodeo. At the rodeo, country artist, Red Steagall (who was also performing that day) was impressed by her vocal ability and offered his help in making McEntire a country artist in Nashville, Tennessee. After recording a demo tape, she eventually signed a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1975.
1976 ??? 1983: Career launch at Mercury
McEntire made her first recordings for Mercury January 22, 1976, where she cut 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 #88 in May. 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 #86 in March 1977. She recorded a third single that April titled, "Glad I Just Waited for You," which reached #88 by August. That same month, Mercury issued her self-titled debut album. 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. The album itself did not chart the Billboard Top Country Albums chart upon its release. The album was followed by a series of medium-sized hits on the Billboard country chart. After releasing two singles with country artist Jacky Ward, 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 major hit, reaching #19 on the Billboard country chart in November 1979.
In 1980, "You Lift Me Up (To Heaven)" became her first Top 10 hit on the country music chart. Her third studio album, Feel the Fire was released in October and spawned two additional Top 20 hit singles that year. In September 1982, McEntire's fourth album, Heart to Heart was issued and became her first album to chart the Billboard Top Country Albums list, peaking at #42. Its lead single, "Today All Over Again" became a Top 5 country hit and the second single, "I'm Not That Lonely Yet" became her biggest hit up to that point, peaking at #3. 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 the album's third track, "There Ain't No Love," "essentially a soft pop ballad." Most of the album's material consisted of mainly country pop-styled ballads, which was not well-liked by McEntire herself. Her fifth album, Unlimited was issued in June 1982 and spawned her first number one singles in early 1983: "Can't Even Get the Blues" and "You're the First Time I've Thought About Leaving." 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 musical approach toward her material. McEntire often noticed her album's material would take a country pop direction, with orchestral strings often backed on her studio albums.
1984 ??? 1990: Breakthrough success
McEntire signed with MCA Nashville Records in 1984 and released her seventh studio album entitled, 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. 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 ). The album spawned two number one singles: "How Blue" and "Somebody Should Leave." It was given positive reviews from critics, with Billboard Magazine praising McEntire as "the finest woman country singer since Kitty Wells" and Rolling Stone critics honored 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 #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 and George Strait. That year, McEntire won the Country Music Association Awards' Female Vocalist of the Year, her first major industry award.
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. 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 #5 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. 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 than anything she had previously recorded. Country Music: The Rough Guide called the production of the title track, "bigger and sentimentalism more obvious, even manipulative." The title track peaked at #1 on the Billboard Country Chart and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance the following year. 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.
Reba McEntire in Washington, D.C. (2005).
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." The title track was the lead single from the release and was a number one single shortly after its release. It also spawned a second number single in 1987 titled, "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. A twelfth studio album was released in 1987 titled, The Last One to Know. 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 Holiday collection entitled, Merry Christmas to You, which sold two million copies in the United States, certifying double Platinum. The album included cover versions of "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," and Grandpa Jones's "The Christmas Guest."
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,' McEntirehas gone whole-hog pop. Okay, so maybe that's not so terrible. But her rendition of the soul classic 'Respect' is." 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." 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. Also in 1988, McEntire founded the business, 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 was released in May 1989; entitled Sweet Sixteen, it spent thirteen 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 #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 #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." In September she released Reba Live, her first live album, which originally certified gold but certified platinum ten years later.
Sixteen months after the release of Sweet Sixteen and after giving birth to a child, 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. 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 website 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. 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.
1991: Aviation accident and For My Broken Heart
While on tour for her 1990 album, McEntire lost eight members of her road band and two plane crewman (Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, Tony Saputo) when their charter jet plane crashed near San Diego, California on March 16, 1991. The accident occurred after McEntire's private performance for IBM executives the night before. The first plane was a Hawker Siddeley charter jet had believed to have taken off around 1:45 AM from the Brown Field Municipal Airport, located near the border of Mexico. After rising about 3,572 feet in the air, 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."
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 "measures of all suffering," 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." Within nine months, For My Broken Heart sold two million copies and McEntire was soon responsible for the highest album sales by any recording artist on the MCA Nashville record label. The release peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, while also reaching #13 on the Billboard 200, selling an eventual total of four million copies in the United States, thus earning a quadruple-platium certification. Its title track became McEntire's sixteenth number one, followed by "Is There Life Out There," which also reached #1 on the Billboard country music chart. 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 #12.
1992 ??? 2001: 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 #8. McEntire commented that the record was a "second chapter" to For My Broken Heart, 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 #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." 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." The album's preceding singles???"The Heart Won't Lie" (a duet with Vince Gill) and "Take It Back"???were Top 10 hits on the Billboard country chart, reaching #1 and #5 respectively. Like its preceding album, It's Your Call sold over a million copies, eventually certifying by the RIAA in sales of double-platinum.
In October 1993, McEntire's third compilation album, Greatest Hits Volume Two was released, reaching #1 and #5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums and Billboard 200 charts respectively. Out of the ten tracks were two new singles: the first being a duet with Linda Davis titled "Does He Love You." The song later went on to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and win both women a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. 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." 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.
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. The album itself reached #2 on the both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts. 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." 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. 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. Because of its subject, the song garnered less of a response from radio and peaked at #15. 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.
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 in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. 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. 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." The album paid tribute to many of McEntire's favorite artists and included cover versions of "Talking in Your Sleep," "Please Come to Boston," "On My Own," and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Despite negative reviews, Starting Over was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America within the first two months of its release, but only one single???a cover of Lee Greenwood's "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands"???was a Top 10 hit single.
Reba 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. The album's lead single, "The Fear of Being Alone" reached #2 on the Billboard country music chart. and its further two singles ("How Was I to Know" and "I'd Rather Ride Around with You") reached number one and #2 respectively. 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." 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 shareShe's country music's female artist of the 90's." What If It's You peaked at #1 Top Country Albums chart and #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. At the end of 1997, McEntire also charted in the Top 30 with a charity single entitled "What If."
In 1997, McEntire headlined a tour with Brooks & Dunn which led to the recording of "If You See Him/If You See Her" with the duo the following year. 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. 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." 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." In addition, If You See Him peaked within the Top 10 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums chart, reaching #8 and #2 respectively.
For 1999, two albums were released by McEntire off the MCA Nashville label. In September she issued her second Holiday 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. The album would eventually certify Platinum by the end of the decade. 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/Spanish duet with Jose y Durval on Boz Scaggs' 'We're All Alone'."
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 #3 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.
2003 ??? 2007: Return to the music industry
McEntire's single, "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain," released in mid-2003, ended her two-year break from recording. In November 2003, her twenty-third studio album, Room to Breathe, marked her first release of new material four years. The Boston Globe 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." 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. The album itself reached a peak of #4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #25 on the Billboard 200, staying at the position for only one week. The second single, "Somebody"???which 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???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." Its second single, "He Gets That from Me" reached #7, followed by the Amy Dalley co-written track "My Sister," which reached #16.
In 2005, McEntire released a compilation entitled, Reba #1's. The album consisted of thirty-five tracks, thirty three of which were number one hits McEntire had previously acquired on the Billboard Magazine, Radio & Records, and Gavin Report 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 #33 and #59 respectively, with the latter becoming her first single in 27 years to miss the country top 40 entirely. Country Standard Time called the tracks, "Whoever's in New England" and "You Lie," the album "highlights." The album reached a peak of #3 on the Top Country Albums chart and #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, Reba became the female artist with the most nominations (forty-six) in the forty-two year history of the CMA Awards, surpassing Dolly Parton, who has forty-three.
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 stating, "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. 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. 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 Faithful, 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." The album contained ten tracks of duets with country and pop artists, including Kenny Chesney, Trisha Yearwood, Carole King, and Justin Timberlake. Reba: Duets peaked at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart, while also becoming her first album in her thirty-year career to peak and debut at #1 on the Billboard 200, with 300,536 copies (according to Nielsen Soundscan) sold within its first week of release. On January 17, 2008, McEntire embarked on the 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour with Clarkson, which began in Dayton, Ohio. A month after its release, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 19, 2007. The album's only other single was a duet with Chesney entitled "Every Other Weekend." An alternate recording of the song, recorded as a duet with its writer Skip Ewing, was also sent to radio, although neither duet partner received chart credit.
2008 ??? present: New record label
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 Parton's record for the most Top Ten country hits for a solo female. 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. Under MCA, she had sold a total of fifty five million records worldwide and won two Grammys. 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."
On April 5, 2009, McEntire debuted her first single on Valory at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards, entitled "Strange." The song debuted at #39 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart giving McEntire the highest single debut of her career, and went on to peak at #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. The album gained fairly positive reviews from most album critics, including The 9513, which gave Keep on Loving You three and a half out of five stars. The website favored "Strange," calling McEntire's performance of the song "stellar." Criticism was given to the album's third 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." On August 26, Keep on Loving You became McEntire's second album to top both the Billboard Country and 200 charts, selling 96,000 copies within its first week. With the album, McEntire broke the record for the female country artist with the most Billboard #1 albums, which was previously held by Loretta Lynn. On August 18, she released the album's second single, "Consider Me Gone."
1990 ??? 1999: Entrance into film and television
During the late 1980s, many of McEntire's music videos were being described by many 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 the ABC network.
In 1990, she obtained her first film role playing Heather Grummer in the horror comedy Tremors, along with Kevin Bacon. The film explained 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 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 in a half stars from Allmovie. In 1995, McEntire starred in a third made-for-television movie entitled, Buffalo Girls, which was based upon the life of western cowgirl, Calamity Jane (played by Angelica Houston). Playing Jane's friend, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Girls was nominated for an Emmy award. In the mid 90s, McEntire auditioned and won the portrayal of Molly Brown for the making of the film, Titanic. However, production for the film was extended beyond its original duration, and therefore McEntire had to resign from the part, as she had already scheduled prior concert engagements. The role was instead given to Kathy Bates. In 1998, she starred as Lizzie Brooks in a fourth TV film, Forever Love, which was based upon McEntire's hit single of the same name.
2000 ??? 2007: 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 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." McEntire personally called the musical, "some of the hardest work I've ever done in in my life."
In October 2001, McEntire premiered her half-hour television sitcom on the WB network entitled, Reba. The show was based around single mother, Reba Hart, who learns how to handle life situations after her husband divorces her and their teenage daughter finds out she's pregnant. 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 would run for six seasons and nominate McEntire for a Golden Globe award. In 2006, the series was moved to the CW network and remained there for one more season before its cancellation on February 18, 2007. On August 16, 2009, McEntire confirmed that she is developing a new sitcom, however it is in the "very rough stages" at this point.
Musical styles and legacy
Reba McEntire in concert on August 8, 2008.
McEntire's sound has been influenced the country music of Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, and Patsy Cline. In college, McEntire would sneak into 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. 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.
McEntire possesses a contralto vocal range and is often known for creating "vocal gymnastics" with her voice, 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."
McEntire has often been regarded as one of country music's most influential female vocalists and most well-loved entertainers. She has also been highly-credited for remaining one of country's most popular female artists for over two decades, maintaining her success by continually incorporating contemporary musical sounds without changing her traditional vocal style. 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. 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," Reba says. "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."
McEntire's two siblings (both from the Singing McEntires) have also maintained careers in the music industry. Her brother, Pake McEntire was a successful country artist in the late 1980s and early 90s. Her sister, Susie Luchsinger, is a successful Christian music singer.
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 would 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 two stepsons and gave birth to a son, Shelby on February 23, 1990. The couple has since celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary, and McEntire states that the secrets to her marriage are, "Respect, faith, love, trust, and lots of patience."
Main article: List of Reba McEntire awards
McEntire holds the record for the most Academy of Country Music Top Female Vocalist Awards (seven), and American Music Awards for Favorite Female Country Artist (twelve), and ties with Martina McBride for most Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year Awards (four).