Reba Nell McEntire wasborn on March 28, 1955 to Jacqueline and Clark McEntire in the town ofMcAlester, Oklahoma. She was the thirdof four children, born into a family of steer ropers on their 8,000-acre ranchin Chockie, Oklahoma. She would followin her father and grandfather’s footsteps in the rodeo by becoming a barrelracer from the age of 11-years old until she was 21.
Her mother was a schoolteacher and secretaryfor the Kiowa school district, who dreamed of becoming a professional country musicsinger. She encouraged all the childrento sing and taught them to harmonize in long car trips while traveling to therodeos. Reba, her older brother Pake,and younger sister Susie joined their own small town band called the Kiowa HighSchool Cowboy Band while in high school.
Eventually, the three broke off onto their own and formed their owngroup called The Singing McEntires and recorded a single “The Ballad of John McEntire”,for Boss records in 1971 (Bufwack, 323). Reba played the guitar and wrote all the music for the band. The Singing McEntires continued to sing andperform at rodeos, clubs, and dance halls throughout their high school years. This was the start of Reba’s career in the countrymusic world with a long, rough road ahead of her. Reba’s success continued on after graduating high schooland attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University, graduating in December1976 with a degree in elementary education and a minor in music. While not attending school, she continued toplay and perform her songs locally. Shewas hired to sing the national anthem at the National Rodeo Finals in OklahomaCity on December 10, 1974. Her performancecaught the attention of country music artist Red Steagall, who invited her toNashville to record demos for his music publishing company (Carlin, 260).
Reba spentSpring Break of March 1975 in Nashville recording demos that would later secureher a record deal. Steagall was soimpressed with her vocal ability that he shopped her demo tapes aroundNashville and eventually landed her a recording contract with Mercury Recordsin 1975. Reba released her first debutsingle “I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand” in January of 1976, it failed tobecome a major hit peaking at No. 88 on the Billboard country music chart. The next few releases didn’t fare as welleither, and her self-titled debut album did not chart at all. Despite the lack of initial chart success,Reba worked to steadily build her career. She finally made the charts in in 1979 with the singles “Three Sheets inthe Wind’ and the cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” peaking at No. 20 andNo.
19 respectively on the Billboards Top 20 hits. In 1980, Reba’s “You Lift Me Up (To Heaven)”single brought her to the Top 10 when the song peaked at No. 8. In September 1981, Reba’s fourth album “Heartto Heart” was released and was her first album to chart on the Billboards TopCountry Albums list, peaking at No. 2 (Stambler, 305). In 1983, McEntire decided to leave Mercury records in hopesto have more control over her song selection and album production. She signed a deal with MCA Records and was electrifiedwhen she was finally allowed to create an album the way she wanted to. In 1984, she released “My Kind of Country”which contained “How Blue” and “Somebody Should Leave”, both which soared to No.
1 hits on the charts. Her hard work,success, and dedication was ultimately rewarded in 1984 when she won the CMA FemaleVocalist of the Year Award, an honor she would earn unprecedented four years ina row (Dicaire, 18). In 1986, she brought further admirations whenshe joined the Grand Ole Opry in January and was crowned as the CMA Entertainerof the Year in October. McEntire’s album”Whoever’s in New England” became her first to become certified Fold by theRIAA in 1986, and her “Greatest Hits” album became her fist Platinum-certifiedalbum. She continued to dominate thecharts and was by this time considered a country music superstar. By 1988, her success led McEntire and her manager at thetime, Narvel Blackstock, to establish Starstruck Entertainment to handle herbookings, publicity, publishing, and more. The company would expand to include other artists as well. She would eventually marry Blackstock and thecouple would expand their brand to include the production and creation of successfulclothing, footwear, luggage, and other home collection lines that were soldnationwide in Dillard’s department stores.
Everything seemed to be going well for McEntire untiltragedy struck. On March 16, 1991, theplane carrying her manager and band crashed on it’s way back to Nashville from herlatest concerts on the West Coast. Thecrash killed her tour manager and seven band members. She let her sorrow reflect on the album “For MyBroken Heart” which was released later that year. Her co-producer kept bringing her upbeatsongs to sing, and McEntire kept telling him that she needed to sing songs thatdealt with misery and heartbreak.
Thesongs were a type of release for McEntire that allowed her to deal with thetragedy and get back to music, which she claimed her late band members wouldhave wanted (Stampler, 304). The albumbecame another platinum release. Shewas never far from the music, but tried her hand in the acting business andexplored her options in Hollywood. Shestared in the horror film “Tremors” alongside Hollywood stars Kevin Bacon andMichael Gross, but it wasn’t until 2001 that McEntire triumphed in her acting careerwhen she appeared as Annie Oakley in the Broadway play “Annie Get Your Gun”replacing revivals Bernadette Peters and Susan Lucci. Not only bringing a new life to the production,she also landed herself a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award toadd to her collection (Dicaire, 20).
Inthe summer of 2001, McEntire moved to Los Angeles to begin a successfultelevision sitcom “Reba” for the WB Network. After airing for 6 seasons, it signed off in February 2007 from the nowCW Network, but re-runs continued to play on Lifetime, ABC Family, and CMT though2014 showing the shows popularity. McEntire left her longtime home of twenty-fiveyears with MCA and signed with Valory Music Label in 2008 after releasing herthree-disc Greatest Hits album. Under MCA,she had sold a total of dixy -seven million records and won two Grammy’s. Her success continued under her new labelwhen her first album “Keep on Loving You” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top200 album chart. Her album “All the WomenI Am” hit stores in 2010 and gained popularity with a number of hit singles andreceived great reviews from music critics.
In 2011, the Country Music Association announced that McEntire would beinducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and was inducted by Dolly Partonin May of that same year (Bufwack, 323). In 2014 she announced that she would be working on a new album thatwould end up being her twenty-seventh studio album and released in April of2015. She went on to create her firstGospel album titled “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope” and was released it inFebruary 2017.Reba McEntire was oneof the most successful female recording artists in history.
She has sold over 56 million albums worldwideand has won 15 American Music Awards, 13 AMC Awards, 9 People’s Choice Awards,7 CMA Awards, and 2 GRAMMY Awards. Aboveall, she is one of only 4 entertainers in history to receive the National ArtisticAchievement Award from the United States Congress (www.reba.com)