Reba McEntire celebrated a major full-circle moment at the Grand Ole Opry on September 22, as she marked the 40th anniversary of her first Opry appearance.

On that night in September 1977, Dolly Parton made a surprise appearance. Opry management cut Reba from two songs to one so Dolly could have more time onstage, and Reba has often talked about what a thrill it was for her to just be in Dolly’s presence that night.

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In fact, Reba told that story about Dolly during her 40th anniversary set at the Opry, which also included her cover of Ray Price’s “Invitation to the Blues,” as well as her hits “Somebody Should Leave” and “Does He Love You,” the latter with surprise guest Carrie Underwood.

Midway through Reba’s performance, Dolly herself made another surprise appearance just like she did back in 1977. Reba exclaimed, “You rascal!” as Dolly greeted her, and they both marveled at the deafening roar from the Opry crowd. Reba grew emotional as Carrie Underwood wheeled out a cake and the audience sang “Happy Anniversary to You” in her honor.

As Vince Gill walked out onstage with a box of tissues, Dolly hilariously told Reba, “He wants to give you a snot rag.”

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Reba then went into more detail about what it was like to see Dolly in person for the first time at the Opry 40 years ago.

“They said, ‘Clear the halls. Dolly Parton is walking in,’ Reba recalled to Dolly. “I walked up and I flattened up against that wall, and you walked by me like an angel in a black chiffon pantsuit with butterfly rhinestones on it. I thought, ‘My gosh, that’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.’ You still are.”

Dolly shot back, “And when you found out that I stole one of your songs, you gave me the finger.”

They both shared a big laugh and another hug before Dolly left the stage. Reba then closed out her Opry anniversary set with her signature hit, “Fancy.”

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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