Reba McEntire has built a multi-faceted career that has transcended country music stardom to include film, television and theater. The Oklahoma native is also a successful entrepreneur whose line of clothing and home goods has become another way the busy entertainer continues to engage with her enthusiastic fan base.
Reba Nell McEntire grew up in a close-knit family that was equally passionate about music and rodeo. Her father and grandfather were both champion steer ropers, and Reba competed as a barrel racer. Traveling to and from rodeos, her family would pass the time singing, and eventually formed a group called the Singing McEntires that would perform at rodeo events.
She went to college, earned her degree and had planned on becoming a teacher, but music was always her first love, and she was onstage every chance she had. Her big break came when country singer Red Steagall saw her perform the national anthem at National Rodeo in Oklahoma City and offered to help her pursue a career in Nashville.
Reba signed a deal with Mercury Records in 1975. Though her first three singles failed to catch fire at country radio, the talented redhead and her record company remained undaunted, and it was her second album that yielded her first top 20 hit, a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams.” Her single, “You Lift Me Up (To Heaven),” finally carried her to the top 10 and, in 1983, she scored her first No. 1 hit with “Can’t Even Get the Blues.”
In the ensuing years Reba’s career exploded and she became a household name, known for such hits as “Somebody Should Leave,” “Whoever’s in New England,” “One Promise Too Late,” “For My Broken Heart,” “Fancy,” and “Is There Life Out There,” which spawned a television movie. She has scored 35 No. 1 singles and sold more than 56 million albums worldwide. Never one to rest on her laurels, Reba released her first gospel collection in 2017. The double disc set, “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope,” earned Reba a Grammy Award. The Country Music Hall of Fame member has also won 15 American Music Awards, 14 ACM Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards and six CMA Awards among other accolades.
Though she’s become a legend in the music industry, Reba’s accomplishments are not limited to the recording field. In the early ’90s, she expanded into acting with roles in films such as “Tremors.” In 2001, she starred on Broadway as Annie Oakley in the revival of “Annie Get Your Gun.” Later that year, her sitcom, “Reba,” debuted on the WB network. The show became a hit, running for six seasons and earning her a Golden Globe nomination. Another series for ABC, “Malibu Country,” lasted just one season. In 2018, she debuted a surprising new role as KFC’s first female Colonel Sanders in an ad campaign for the restaurant chain.
“I didn’t have the imagination to even think all this up,” she has said of her tremendous success, “but I knew I was going to be doing something like this. I knew I was going to be entertaining.”