Hello readers. This week we are doing something very exciting. We are giving away tickets to the Songs, Stools, and Stories show on April 4th. What is the Songs, Stools, and Stories show you ask? Well I’m glad you asked. The Voice of Lonestar – Richie McDonald; Grammy Award winner – Suzy Bogguss; and The Voice of Restless Heart – Larry Stewart. Combined, these three artists represent over 50 top 10 songs, and over 20 #1 Hits. They take the stage together and perform their hits, intermixed with stories about the songs and their careers. It is an intimate glimpse into the lives of the Hit Makers and their songs.If you are a fan of country music, this would be a great show for you to go to. How do I win tickets to such an amazing show you ask? Well first off thank you for participating Mr or Ms Reader. All you have to do is answer the question at the end of this article. Seems easy right? Well I’m not known for making things easy. You will have to read the article to find the information. I could make the question about Reba McEntire, but you could find that info with a simple Google search. Nope. The information you need to answer the question will only be in my mind, and in this article. So enjoy the article and at the end I will let you know how to participate.
Reba. McEntire. This woman has been a mainstay in country music, and pop culture for four decades. Her music has a wide variety of styles and sounds, but all of her songs are distinctly Reba. There aren’t many artists that can sound so different yet sound so much like themselves. Let’s take a dive into the career of one of the most profound, and amazing women in music, Reba McEntire.
Reba Neil McEntire was born on March 28th, 1955 in McAlester, Oklahoma. Her father, Clark, was a champion rodeo performer, so the family spent a lot of time traveling to watch Clark perform. Her mother, Jacqueline, had aspirations to be a country music singer, but instead became a music teacher. Jacqueline did, however, teach her students, and children, about music, and how to sing. During the long car rides, Jacqueline would help pass the time by teaching the children to harmonize, and learning different songs. This bonding over music led Reba, her brother, Pake, and her younger sister, Susie, to start a vocal group they called the Singing McEntires. Reba would write the songs, and play guitar. Their gigs usually included the rodeos that their father was performing at. The group even recorded a song with indie label, Boss, entitled “The Ballad of John McEntire”.
After graduating high school in 1973, Reba attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She initially intended to become an elementary school teacher, like her mother. Not forgetting her mother’s love for music, Reba continued to perform locally, and in 1974 sang the national anthem at the National Rodeo Finals on national television. As luck would have it, country artist Red Steagall was also performing that day. He was impressed by her vocal ability (then again who isn’t) and offered to help launch her career. She went to Nashville with him, and recorded some demos for his publishing company. Red shopped the demos around town, and eventually found a label that wanted to sign her. On November 11th, 1975, Reba signed with Mercury Records.On January 22nd, 1976 she released her first single, “I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand”. The single only reached number 88 on the Country singles chart, but little did Reba know, she was in for a long, successful career.
Her next two singles didn’t fair very well either. “(There’s Nothing Like The Love) Between a Woman and Man”, and “Glad I Waited For You” only hit number 86 and 88 respectively. In April 1977, her self-titled debut album was released. It didn’t even chart. It took Reba two and a half years to see her first success, and even then it took being paired up with Jacky Ward to do it. The duo released a two-sided single. “Three Sheets in the Wind”/”I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” cracked the top 20 in July 1978. The combination of the success of the duo’s singles and touring as the opening act for Steagall helped get people notice Reba. Her next single was her first solo success. Well relative to what she had done in her previous three solo attempts. “Last Night, Ev’ry Night” reached number 28, and was the start of a string of top 40 singles for the future legend. Her next single, a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”, became Reba’s first top twenty hit reaching number 19. Despite the success of her singes, her albums weren’t selling. Her second album, “Out of a Dream” which was released in 1979, didn’t chart either.
Reba saw the success of her singles continue to rise when she hit the top ten fir the first time when “(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven” hit number eight. Even though her third album also had two more top twenty hits, “Feel the Fire” failed to chart.
1981 would be the year Reba started to really take over country music. In October 1981, she finally broke into the top five with “Today All Over Again”. The success of the track helped her fourth album, “Heart to Heart”, reach number 42 on the country albums chart. After four years of hard work, Reba finally got to see one of her albums chart. Granted it was only number 42, but with three consecutive non-charting albums, I imagine that felt amazing.
Her next album “Unlimited” saw even more success. The album reached number 22, and the single “I’m Not That Lonely Yet” reached number three, while the next two singles became her first and second singles to reach number one. “Can’t Even Get the Blues”, and “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving” helped take Reba from a moderate star to a bright shiny star.
You may think that all this success would make Reba happy, but she was far from it. Reba didn’t like the songs that Mercury was giving her to sing, and the way she was being pushed to sing more country-pop songs. She also didn’t think the label was promoting her properly. After fulfilling her contract with Mercury by releasing her sixth album with them, “Behind the Scene”, which saw moderate success, she moved on and signed with MCA Records in 1983.
Reba’s debut single with MCA Records, “Just a Little Love”, broke the top five, making it look like her move was a wise one. The success of the album of the same name though may have suggested otherwise. The album reached number 23, potentially showing that even the new record label couldn’t quite break Reba through….at least initially. She also had some of the same issues at MCA that She had at Mercury. Harold Shedd(Alabama’s producer) was the first producer assigned to produce “Just a Little Love”, but Reba and Shedd didn’t agree on the direction the album should go. Shedd wanted a more pop country sound, much like Reba was doing at Mercury and why she left, but I imagine Reba said in that cute southern accent “Oh Hell no!” Shedd was then replaced by Norro Wilson. Wilson wasn’t much of an improvement still giving the album a distinguishable pop country sound. Reba, being the fiery little red head she is, said enough is enough and went to the big man himself, MCA president, Jimmy Bowen. Bowen told her to find material that was more up her alley. Instead of finding new material, she decided to do some covers of songs she had in her own record collection. Reba recorded covers of songs originally recorded by Ray Price, Carl Smith, Faron Young, and Connie Smith. The album was fittingly titled “My Kind of Country”. The album reached number 13, while the two singles, “How Blue”, and “Somebody Should Leave” both hit number one.
The album proved two things. First, that Reba knows what the hell she is talking about when it comes to country music. Second, that people love traditional country. The 80’s saw a fad of “urban cowboys” (which seems to me like a lot of what is happening now, but that’s a topic for another day on another platform). The fad stemmed from the movie of the same name, and saw many people that normally wouldn’t listen to country music tune in. The traditional sound of country wasn’t something they liked, but the rise of pop country, much like Reba was forced to sing at Mercury, kept their interest. Reba knew that people still loved the traditional sound, and she wanted to help bring it back, with the help of people like Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis (who I have also done an article on. To read it click here) and George Strait.
After seeing the success that Reba has to offer, Bowen worked directly with her on her next album, “Have I Got a Deal for You”. Though it didn’t see quite the same success as her previous album, (The album only reaching 27 and the singles, “Only in My Mind”, and “Have I Got a Deal for You” reaching 5 and 6 respectively) the album stuck with her new found traditional glory, and helped her land her second consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year award from the Country Music Association, and it helped her become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1986, Reba released her ninth studio album, “What Am I Gonna Do About You?” The album was panned by Allmusic critic, William Ruhlmann. He felt that the album lacked some of the features that were set forth on Reba’s previous album. Well the masses disagreed. The album reached number one, as did the title track, and “One Promise Too Late”. The second single “Let the Music Lift You Up” also broke the top five, peaking at number four. Just as a bit of advice, don’t take critics word as the bible. My favorite album was critically panned by many sources, but it contains some of my favorite songs.
In 1987 Reba and MCA released Greatest Hits. Blah blahblah. I hate greatest hits albums. Those should be saved for after an artist has been recording for decades and has died. Not after ten years.
Anyway back on track here. 1987 also saw the release of Reba’s twelfth studio album, “The Last One To Know””. During the recording process, Reba was also going through a divorce fromher husband, Charlie Battles. Reba, being a recording artist and all, used those emotions in the album. It seems like the fans felt it too, because both singles, “The Last One to Know”, and “Love Will Find It’s Way to You”, both reached number one, and the album reached number three on the Country Albums Chart, and 102 on the Billboard 200. The Country Music Association must have also seen it, because Reba won her fourth straight Female Vocalist of the Year Award that year as well.
Reba also released a Christmas album in 1987, and it went double platinum. That’s all I wasn’t to say about it, because I am not a fan of Christmas music. I know I just made a bunch of you upset, but hey, it’s just my opinion. The album obviously was good.
Reba’s thirteenth album, “Reba”, was also not received well by critics. They said she was straying away from the “traditional country” sound she had helped bring back. I honestly hadn’t listened to any of the songs from this album until I started writing this paragraph, but I did just listen to all three singles, “I Know How He Feels”, “New Fool At An Old Game”, (which both reached number one) and A COVER OF Jo Stafford’s “Sunday Kind of Love” (which reached number five). I can see what they are saying about straying away from the “traditional country” sound, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. They are all still distinctly country, they just give a little more to the genre. There is nothing wrong with sticking to what works, but there is nothing wrong with expanding a little bit. Without that thought process, the world would be without many of the wonderful bands, and artists we have. I am admittedly more of a rock guy, so I will use my knowledge of rock history to help prove my point. Black Sabbath is considered the first band to use the sound that we now associate with metal. Distorted guitars tuned down. Heavy sound. All of that. If they hadn’t revolutionized rock music, and put their own spin on it, there are many bands that would not have existed. The same goes for country music. In order to advance to genre, there has to be a group, or an artist that is willing to push the boundaries of what we consider country music.Anyway rant over. I could spend all day talking about that, and I would thoroughly enjoy it, but you are here to learn about Reba.
In 1989, Reba had a bit of a coincidence on her hands. She released her fourteenth studio album. The album was called “Sweet Sixteen”. The coincidence? The album spent sixteen weeks on top of the Country Albums chart. Is Reba a psycic? Hmmm……Anyway, it also became her first album to break into the top 100 on the Billboard 200 chart. All four singles made it into the top ten as well. “Cathy’s Clown” reached number one, “Walk On” reached number two, “Til’ Love Comes Again” reached number four, and “Little Girl” topped out at number seven. The album was also praised for returning to “the neo-traditionalist fold”. As I write this article, I’m starting to hate critics more and more, but I will push on…..
In 1989, Reba also got remarried. She married her manager, NarvelBlackstock. On February 23rd, 1990 Reba and Narvel became proud parents to a boy names Shelby Steven McEntire Blackstock.
By the end of the year, Reba’s fifteenth studio album was ready to be released. “Rumor Has It” was panned by critics, being called “predictable”. Excuse me, but you are telling me that you predicted what is in my opinion Reba’s best song? You predicted “Fancy”? In my opinion, “Fancy” is Reba’s best work. The way she tells the story, the visuals, the energy, and the passion all culminate in one fantastic song. I understand it’s a cover of soul singer Bobbie Gentry’s song of the same name, but Reba did it better. WAY better….in my opinion of course. Sadly, it was the lowest charting single on the album, only reaching number eight. The other three singles all broke the top five. “You Lie” reached the top, while “Fallin’ Out of Love” reached number two, and “Rumor Has It” peaked at number three. The album topped out at number two on the Country Albums chart, and became Reba’s first top 40 hit on the Billboard 200 reaching number 39. The album has also gone triple platinum, so take that critics. Predictable. Pshh.
Sadly for Reba and her crew, tragedy struck on March 16th, 1991 when one of the the charter jet plane they were on crashed near San Diego, California. The first plane took off at 1:45 AM and crashed only ten miles away from the airport into the Otay Mountain. The cause of the crash was sighted as poor visibility. Ten people in all were killed by the crash. Eight memers of her band including (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. Reba and her husband were immediately informed of the tragedy. The couple were sleeping in a hotel nearby.
Reba dedicated her sixteenth album “For My Broken Heart” to those killed in the crash. The album contained songs of sorrow, and lost love. The masses must have been able to feel the pain, because it has gone quadruple platinum, reached number three on the Country Albums chart, and thirteen on the Billboard 200. The title track and “Is There Life Out There” both reached number one, while “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” peaked at number three, and “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia” puttered out at number twelve.
Reba continued to have success with her seventeenth album, 1992’s “It’s Your Call”. The album topped the Country Albums chart, went triple platinum, and broke the top ten on the Billboard 200 reaching number eight. It also topped the Canadian Country Albums chart. “The Heart Won’t Lie”, a duet with the great Vince Gill, hit number one while “Take It Back”, and “It’s Your Call” both peaked at number five. Reba stated that the album was intended to be a “second chapter” to “For My Broken Heart”.
1993 saw Reba release another greatest hits album. However the album did include two new singles. “Does He Love You”, a duet with Linda Davis, became a number one hit, while “They Asked About You” reached number seven. The album is Reba’s highest selling album to date, being certified five times platinum. If you are going to release a greatest hits album, do it like this. Include some new material. I can live with that.
Reba broke new ground with her 1994 album, “Read My Mind”. The album itself was a success, reaching number two on both the Country Albums, and Billboard 200 charts, but it also contained the single “She Thinks His Name Was John”. The single only reached number fifteen, but it was the first country song to address the topic of AIDS. The story was that of a woman who is dying from the disease, which she was infected with after a drunken one night stand. She tries to recount who she slept with and contracted the disease from. She also realizes the milestones she will never be able to experience. It is a very powerful song. If you haven’t heard it before click here to listen to it. Hadn’t heard it before, but I do love it. The other four singles on the album did very well. “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” hit number one, “Till You Love Me”, and “And Still” both hit number two. And “Why Haven’t I Heard From You” peaked at number five.
Reba celebrated twenty years recording music with her 1995 album, “Starting Over”. The album was comprised of covers of songs from the 50’s through the 80’s. Some of the covers were “Talking In Your Sleep” originally sung by Crystal Gayle, “I Won’t Mention It Again” originally sung by Ray Price, and “Starting Over Again”, originally sung by Dolly Parton. The album reached number one on the Country Albums chart and number five on the Billboard 200, but Lee Greenwood’s “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands” was the only one single to break the top ten, peaking at number 9.
Reba’s next album, “What If It’s You” saw more of the same for the superstar. Reaching number one on the Country Albums chart, and number 15 on the Billboard 200, the album also saw “How was I to Know” reach number one, and “The Fear of Being Alone”, and “I’d Rather Ride Around with You” both reach number two.
In 1997, Reba linked up with fellow country mega-stars, Brooks & Dunn on a tour. That tour led to the three of them recording “If You See Him/If You See Her”. Both groups released their next album on June 2nd, Reba’s entitled “If You See Him”, and Brooks & Dunn’s entitled “If You See Her”. The duet reached number one, and three other singles off of the album saw top ten success for Reba. “Forever Love” reached number four, “Wrong Night” peaked at number six, and “One Honest Heart” hit number seven. The album peaked at number two on the Country Albums chart and number eight on the Billboard 200.
In 1999, Reba released two albums, her second Christmas album, and her 22nd studio album, “So Good Together”. The album wasn’t quite as successful as her previous few outings, reaching number five on the Country Albums chart, and only hitting number 28 on the Billboard 200. Two of the three singles broke the top five (“What Do You Say” and “I’ll Be” reaching three and four respectively), while “We’re So Good Together” only reached number twenty.
In 2001 Reba released another greatest hits album. “Greatest Hits Volume III: I’m a Survivor” topped the Country Albums chart and reached number 18 on the Billboard 200. The only single to break the top twenty was “I’m a Survivor” which peaked at number three.
After the release of “Greatest Hits Volume III: I’m a Survivor”, Reba decided to take a break from music to pursue her other passion, acting. She starred in her own TV sitcom called Reba. The show fared fairly well. It wasn’t about to push Friends off the throne, but it did its own thing, and didn’t suck at it.
In 2003, Reba returned to the music scene with “Room to Breathe”. The album did fairly well, reaching number four on the Country Albums chart, and number 25 on the Billboard 200. “Somebody” became Reba’s thirty-third number one single, while “He Gets That from Me” reached number seven, “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain” reached number fourteen, and “My Sister” peaked at number sixteen.
In 2005, Reba released another greatest hits album called “Reba 1’s” The album consisted of all of Reba’s thirty-three number one hit’s, and two original songs, that didn’t do very well.
In 2007, Reba released her twenty-fifth studio album, “Reba: Duets”. The album consisted entirely of, you guessed it, duets. Singing with everyone from LeAnn Rimes, to Vince Gill, and Even Kelly Clarkson, the album has a lot of big names on it. It became the first Reba album to top both the Country Album and Billboard 200 charts. The biggest highlight of the album was her duet with Kelly Clarkson. The duo recorded Clarkson’s hit “Because of You”. The single became Reba’s fifty-fifth top ten single, tying Dolly Parton. The single also sparked the 2 Worlds 2 Voices tour Reba and Clarkson headlined in 2008. Clarkson and Reba are still close to this day. Partially because of the tour, and partially because Clarkson married Reba’s son.
Reba hooked up with Brooks & Dunn again in 2008, re-recording “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”. The song broke the top ten, putting Reba above Parton for most top ten country hits for a solo female. Later that year, Reba announced that she would be leaving MCA records and joining Valory Music Group. With MCA, Reba sold 67 million records worldwide, and won two Grammys. On of the reasons for the move, was Scott Borchetta. Reba stated “Scott and I worked together on some of the biggest singles of my career, and I am excited to renew our partnership.”
Reba’s first album with Valory was “Keep on Loving You”. The album topped the Country Albums and the Billboard 200 charts, and was home to the number one single, “Conceder Me Gone”. “I Keep on Loving You” peaked at number seven, and the leadoff single, “Strange” topped off at number eleven.
Reba released her next album “All the Women I Am” in late 2010. It didn’t quite see the same success as her previous outing, reaching number three on the country albums chart and number seven on the Billboard 200. Only one of the four singles broke the top twenty. “Turn on the Radio” did reach number one though. Reba did try something a little different, covering Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy”. The track peaked at number twenty two.
On May 22nd, 2011, Reba McEntire was induced into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. She was inducted in by fellow Hall of Famer, and Country music icon, Dolly Parton.
In 2015, Reba released her twenty-seventh studio album, “Love Somebody”. The album as a whole did well, topping the Country Albums chart, and reaching number three on the Billboard 200, but the only single to break into the top twenty was “Going Out Like That”, which peaked at number twenty three.
Reba McEntire is probably one of the most influential women in all of music. When her career started very poorly, she kept pushing. When she felt herself slipping away from the style she wanted, she made a change. When the critics said she was being predictable, she wowed them. Reba has done what she wanted with her career ever since she moved over to MCA Records. She may be over sixty, and she may have been recording music for over forty years, but I truly believe we still haven’t seen the best of what Reba McEntire has to offer the world of country music.
Are you ready for the question? Which Reba song did I say was my personal favorite? To answer, email me email@example.com. You will have until Sunday night at 11:59 pm to answer (because you know it’s the Featured Artist of the Weekend and the weekend ends at midnight). On Monday, I will randomly select a winner out of everyone that gets the answer correct. Make sure the subject line says “Featured artist question of the week” so I can easily spot it. In the email also include your name and a phone number. Good luck!
(courtesy of Ryan B)