you have to
celebrates 30 years
of country hits
By Stephanie E. Ponder
THREE DECADES OF number-one songs demon- Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun.
strate that Oklahoma native Reba McEntire has While on Broadway, McEntire was asked to read
come a long way from performing at rodeos with for a TV show called Sally. She landed the lead and
her siblings as the Singing McEntires. In those early the cast taped two versions of the pilot. One was
days she didn’t have the imagination to picture the called Sally, the other Reba. The title Reba stuck, and
success she reaps today. “I thought you got on the McEntire says her character, Reba Hart, has evolved
radio, got in the tour bus and were a star,” McEntire into being more like herself. “Reba Hart and Reba
tells The Connection.“I didn’t have my first number McEntire have a lot of similarities,” she says.
one until 1982. These days a label would drop you.” “They’re both headstrong, stubborn, loyal and very
That was seven years after McEntire signed her protective of their families.”
first record deal in November 1975. Now, 30 years The character Reba is a single mom who is liv-
later, the country-music superstar is releasing her ing in Texas with her children, son-in-law and
30th record: Reba #1’s. The two-CD set includes granddaughter, and whose ex-husband and his
McEntire’s 33 songs that hit the top of the country- über-perky second wife are always involved in her
music charts plus two new songs. life. The real McEntire, 50, divides her time between
McEntire, who looks up to country-music homes in Los Angeles and Tennessee. She’s been
greats Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Barbara married to Narvel Blackstock since 1989, has three
Mandrell, says she began by trying to be like them. grown children, a 15-year-old son and is expecting
But, she adds, “There comes a time when you have her fourth grandchild in March.
to do your own thing.” Another way McEntire has distinguished herself
That’s precisely what McEntire has done. In is by being on the receiving end of multiple awards.
addition to dozens of hits, she’s found success in Among her many honors is being voted the
film, on stage, in her own TV show and with her “Favorite Female Country Artist” 11 times since
new clothing line, sold at Dillard’s depart- 1987 by the American Music Association. In 2001
ment stores. McEntire is also involved with she won two awards for her work onstage in Annie
a number of charities, including Habitat Get Your Gun, and in 2002 she won a People’s
for Humanity, the literacy organization Choice Award for her work on Reba. But the most
First Book and the Reba McEntire Rehabil- special award, she says, is her first Country Music
itation Center, Reba’s Ranch House and Award for “Top Female Vocalist of the Year” in 1984.
TMC Reba Mobile Mammography in When asked why she feels compelled to take on
Denison, Texas. so many projects, McEntire says she likes to stay
McEntire, a Costco member, busy and can’t say no to a good project. She also
feels that her concert experience admits to another trait that propels her.
helped prepare her for a career in “I’m very competitive,” McEntire says. “I want
acting. “When I sing, I become the the first chance at [doing something]…. If I don’t
character in that song,” she says. do it, somebody else will.” She recalls how, in the
Her first movie role was in the 1990 mid-1990s, she was asked if she’d be willing to
film Tremors. She’s been in several films be lowered from the ceiling to the stage of the
since then, including lending her voice to a Astrodome. She said no. All it took to change her
newadaptationof Charlotte’s Web.In2001she mind was to hear that Garth Brooks would do
took to a different stage, starring in the itinstead. C
Reba McEntire’s latest stylings include a clothing line, a hit TV show
and the release of her 30th album.
The Costco Connection
Reba #1’s is available in most Costco