Reba McEntire Biography

28 March 1955, Chockie, Oklahoma, USA. One of four children, McEntire’s family owned a 7, 000-acre ranch and participated in rodeos, a background which later inspired the song ‘Daddy’. She sang with her sister Susie and brother Pake McEntire as the Singing McEntires, and in 1972, they recorded for the small Boss label. In 1974, she was asked to sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at the National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City. Honky-tonk singer Red Steagall heard her, which led to a recording contract with Mercury Records. Her first single, ‘I Don’t Want To Be A One Night Stand’, made the US country charts in 1976, the year in which she married rodeo rider Charlie Battles. It was followed by several minor successes, including a revival of ‘Sweet Dreams’ and two duets with Jacky Ward (‘Three Sheets To The Wind’ and ‘That Makes Two Of Us’). She made the US country Top 10 with ‘(You Lift Me) Up To Heaven’, the Top 5 with ‘Today All Over Again’, and in 1982, number 1 with ‘Can’t Even Get The Blues’. She had another chart-topper in 1983 with ‘You’re The First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving’.

McEntire then left Mercury for MCA Records, although her old label was to release an album of out-takes, Reba Nell McEntire, in 1986. Her string of country hits continued with ‘Just A Little Love’, ‘He Broke Your Memory Last Night’, ‘Have I Got A New Deal For You’, and the number 1 hits ‘How Blue’ and ‘Somebody Should Leave’. Her best-known single, and the title track of a bestselling album, was ‘Whoever’s In New England’. McEntire’s own battles with Battles ended in their divorce in 1987, and she married her band leader, Narvel Blackstock, in 1989. Several of her successes, although not written for her (‘I Know How He Feels’ and ‘New Fool At An Old Game’), have overtones from her own life. She has won numerous country music awards, but her 1988 album Reba, although very successful, irritated traditionalists who questioned her revival of a pop hit, ‘A Sunday Kind Of Love’, and her cover version of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’. McEntire was adamant: ‘I can sing any kind of song, but whatever I sing, it’ll come out country.’

In 1990, McEntire appeared, killing graboids with an elephant gun, in the well-reviewed horror movie Tremors. On 16 March 1991, tragedy struck when Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Terry Jackson, Michael Thomas, Tony Saputo - seven of the nine members of McEntire’s band - died in a plane crash shortly after taking off from San Diego. The following year, McEntire herself was involved in a forced landing at Nashville airport, evoking memories of the earlier tragedy. She dedicated her next album, For My Broken Heart, to her friends and colleagues. It proved to be one of her most successful projects, and the title track was a major hit single. She tried to come to terms with the previous tragedy in ‘If I Had Only Known’, but the whole song selection evoked memories of it. Despite its melancholia, the album became one of her biggest hits.

Having committed her feelings to record, McEntire then had a massive success via the dramatic video for the ‘cheating’ song, ‘Does He Love You’, which she sang with Linda Davis. She also began to establish herself as a film actress, playing alongside Kenny Rogers in The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw, Burt Reynolds in the 1993 television movie The Man From Left Field, and Bruce Willis in North. In 1995, she looked to her roots for an album of her favourite songs, Starting Over, including ‘Talking In Your Sleep’ and ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’. For ‘On My Own’, she was joined by Linda Davis, Martina McBride and Trisha Yearwood. The follow-up, What If It’s You, featured the excellent singles ‘The Fear Of Being Alone’ and ‘I’d Rather Ride Around With You’.

Following further album releases, McEntire moved to the stage in the new millennium to appear as Annie Oakley in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun. She returned to music with 2003’s Room To Breathe, which quickly chalked up platinum sales and spawned the number 1 hit ‘Somebody’. During this period McEntire also starred in her own television sitcom, Reba, which ran for six seasons from 2001 to 2007. In September 2007, she celebrated her first number 1 album on the mainstream US charts with Reba: Duets. The album featured duets with a range of artists from the pop and country fields, including Kenny Chesney, Kelly Clarkson, Carole King, Rascal Flatts, and Justin Timberlake. She was also announced as the winner of the inaugural Billboard Woman Of The Year award. The following year’s Love Revival compilation featured four new songs and was released exclusively at Hallmark gift stores.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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