There’s only one “Queen of Country Music.” Perhaps no one is as beloved in the genre as Reba McEntire. Her fans know and love her music, her style, and her smile. But do you know everything there is to know about Reba?
Whether it’s her movie and television career, her coming of age at the rodeos, or her path to stardom, McEntire has lived a fascinating life.
Even if you know the lyrics to every one of her songs, we bet you didn’t know all of these Reba facts.
She was offered a role in Titanic
Nearly everybody on planet Earth has seen the 1997 hit Titanic. James Cameron’s Oscar-winner grossed over $2-billion and ignited the careers of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
The movie almost featured none other than Reba McEntire in a critical role. Imagine that.
The part of Molly Brown—the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown—was supposed to go to Reba. And it was hers. All she needed to do was cancel her scheduled concerts.
After having the dates changed on her numerous times by producers, Reba backed out. She was unwilling to disappoint her fans. The memorable role went to Kathy Bates.
She comes from a family of champions
Champions are associated most often with athletics. Sports fans know that the children of athletes frequently become athletes themselves. It’s just in their genes.
There were no Olympians in Reba’s family, or quarterbacks or shortstops. No, they won their titles with a lasso.
Reba’s grandfather, John Wesley McEntire, was the Steer Roping World Champion in 1934. And not to be outdone, his son Clark (Reba’s father) won that same title. But he did it three times—1957, 1958, and 1961.
Then Reba came along. So what did she ever win? Not much. Just three Grammys and six CMA awards.
She learned to harmonize in the car
Who among us doesn’t love singing in the car? Even if you’ve got a lousy voice, who’s ever going to hear you?
Well, Reba never had a lousy voice, and neither did her siblings. But she still had much to learn as a young girl.
Since her father competed in rodeos, the family was often stuck in the car taking long trips to and from his shows. And since they were stuck in there anyway, they figured they’d belt out a few songs.
Their mother Jacqueline gets the credit for teaching them to work together in their singing. Reba’s ability to harmonize comes from her.
She once had very different career plans
Not every astronaut wanted to be an astronaut from the moment they were born. Same goes for singers. Fortunately, career ambitions change.
What would country music be without Reba McEntire? You’d have to go to an alternate universe to find out. But if you get there, you’ll find her in a school.
Reba attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University. While there, she majored in elementary education. That’s right, your first grade teacher could have been Ms. McEntire!
If you don’t ever get to that alternate universe, you’ll have to settle for this one… where Reba minored in music and made a decent career out of it.
She was discovered at an unlikely event
Before the days of American Idol or social media, if you were a performer, you had to get out there and impress the right people.
Sometimes that came in unexpected places. Reba didn’t send a demo tape to a record producer. No, she was just hanging out in her comfort zone.
It happened in December of 1974. While singing the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Red Steagall—the cowboy singer/actor—discovered her.
Reba was just nineteen at the time. She signed with Mercury Records, and her first single came in 1976. She’s got Red to thank for that.
She starred in a cult movie
As if Reba’s country career wasn’t hot enough, she decided to get into acting in 1990. She picked a good one to get things going.
If you like horror and you like comedy and you like horror-comedy, than this film’s for you.
Reba plays a fun-loving gun enthusiast in Tremors. Co-starring Kevin Bacon, the movie follows a legion of subterranean creatures who break through the earth’s surface and feed on human prey.
Don’t make noise on the ground; they’ll hear you. Audiences heard it. The movie became a hit and has attained cult status in the years since.
She made her singing debut at age four
As was typical, Reba’s father was competing in a rodeo. And like always, the whole family traveled to see him do what he did best.
This competition happened to be in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In a hotel lobby, a group of cowboys had gathered. Reba rose to the occasion.
For just a nickel, she sang “Jesus Loves Me” to the small crowd. Her older brother had sang “Hound Dog” in the same fashion, which gave her the idea.
Apparently performing in front of people—even strangers—was no problem at all for young Reba. Not many four-year-olds make that kind of impression.
She didn’t look far to find her first bandmates
As legendary a solo act as she is, did you know Reba was once part of a trio? And that trio formed pretty naturally, and pretty close to home. In fact, it formed at home.
The name of that trio? The Singing McEntires.
Reba, her older brother Pake McEntire, and their younger sister Susie made up the three-piece band. Not surprisingly, they sang at rodeos. They even recorded a song, which was released on the indie label, Boss.
So what happened to The Singing McEntires? They broke up in 1976, thanks to Mercury Records, who signed Reba and forced her to do her own thing.
She has a famous step daughter-in-law
Reba has a son named Shelby Blackstock. She also has a stepson, Brandon Blackstock, from her former marriage to Narvel Blackstock. Unfortunately, they split up in 2015.
Brandon is a talent manager. In 2013, he married a pretty good singer, giving Reba a step daughter-in-law whose voice rivals her own.
That singer? Kelly Clarkson! That’s a lot of talent in the McEntire-Blackstock family.
Reba and Kelly had been close even before then. After Reba’s divorce, she and Kelly have remained tight. They’ve performed together, and Kelly still considers Reba a grandmother to her children.
She almost didn’t make it to her first performance at the Grand Ole Opry
The year after her first single was released, Reba booked her first show at the Grand Ole Opry. The venue is considered the most famed stage in all of country music.
So, landing a gig there was a pretty big deal. But when she got there, a problem arose.
For one reason or another, Reba’s name never made it onto the list of performers for the evening. At the door, security would not let her inside! Remember, in 1977, she was an unknown.
Thankfully, Reba was able to get her booking agent on the phone who came to her rescue. She got inside and played the show.
She’s achieved something no other female country singer has
Recognition in any industry is something to be proud of. If you can make it the music business, you’re a rare breed. A hit song is hard to come by. Multiple hit songs makes you iconic.
Multiple hit songs over the course of many years? Unheard of.
Until Reba McEntire came along. Her longevity might be her most impressive feat. Over the course of her career, she’s had a number one hit in four straight decades!
Before her, that had never been achieved by a female country singer. And since artists don’t always appeal to younger generations as they age, we may never see this again.
She once played a cow
Cows are terrible actors. They can never remember their lines and rarely hit their marks.
Since dressing up a human in a cow suit never fools anybody, when filmmakers need the bovine creatures for their movies, they have to think outside the barn.
In the 2006 live action remake of Charlotte’s Web, Reba was cast to play Betsy the Cow. She voiced her, anyway. As good an actress as she is, not even Reba has that kind of range.
And you’ll never guess who played her best pal Bitsy the Cow in the movie. None other than the woman who replaced Reba in Titanic—Kathy Bates!
You saw her in a commercial and didn’t even know it
Sometimes actors disappear into their roles. A face like Reba McEntire’s is so recognizable, you probably can’t imagine missing her front and center on your television screen.
But you did. She played a role you also saw Rob Lowe, Ray Liotta and Jim Gaffigan play, just to name a few. Give up?
Reba was Colonel Sanders in 2018. She claimed growing up on Kentucky Fried Chicken made it part of her story, so she was excited to be part of theirs.
“I’ve held a lot of roles in my life,” Reba said, “—sort of like the Colonel himself—but this is certainly the most unique one yet.”
A very famous star was rejected as one of her backup singers
The job of a backup singer is an unappreciated one. They make performers look and sound better, and yet, they’re usually invisible in the background.
Gwen Stefani started as a backup singer. So did Mariah Carey. Another star, who auditioned to sing backup for Reba, was rejected by Reba herself.
Country superstar Faith Hill was that reject. Does she blame Reba and sill hold a grudge?
“Well, I didn’t get it because I wasn’t good enough,” Hill said. “I don’t think it was because—I don’t think fate had anything to do with that for me. I wasn’t a great background singer and I didn’t get the part.”
Not getting that gig may have saved Faith Hill’s life
When Faith Hill lost out on that backup singer job, the spot went to a singer named Paula Kay Evans. You’ve probably never heard of her. Evans never had the chance develop a career.
She died on March 16, 1991. What’s the significance of that?
When Faith heard about it, she thought about the band members and their families. She also thought of Reba and how such a loss would have affected her. Reba is famously very close with those around her.
Tragedy birthed an album
Art often comes from dark places. Or devastating places. For Reba McEntire, it was both.
That plane crash, which saw eight of her bandmates perish, led her to make a very unique record. The result was something beautiful. And her fans supported her like never before.
Released on October 1, 1991, For My Broken Heart sold more than four million copies. It peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 charts—her highest ever at the time.
Reba called the album “a form of healing for all our broken hearts.” She chose the songs to fit that theme. It was dedicated to those who were lost.
Her sitcom almost went by a different name
The sitcom Reba ran for six seasons on The WB and on The CW. Following a single mom in Houston named “Reba Hart,” the show was well received. Heck, any network sitcom that lasts more than two seasons in a success.
Would you have watched if it wasn’t called Reba?
Reba’s character name was originally “Sally.” And that was going to be the name of the show. It was Reba herself who convinced producers to make the change.
She knew with her loyal fanbase, using her name would help viewers connect with the show. As it turns out, she was right.
Her son does something very dangerous for a living
Reba’s son with former husband Narvel Blackstock is Shelby Blackstock. Shelby’s not a musician like his mother.
Instead, he’s taken after his grandfather and great-grandfather. No, Shelby’s not a steer roping champ. But he lives life on the edge.
Shelby is a pro race car driver. He’d started his racing career in college before dropping out to pursue the sport full time. He made his debut in 2011 at the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. He drove a Ford Mustang in that one.
Since then, he’s competed—mostly with Andretti Autosport—in the U.S. F2000 National Championship, the Pro Mazda Championship, and Indy Lights.
Reba’s a competitor, too
You’ve heard about her father and grandfather roping steers and winning championships. Now you’ve heard about her son Shelby speeding around tracks in race cars.
So what did Reba do to get her competitive juices flowing? She merely did what she knew best.
Growing up around the rodeo circuit, Reba got into barrel racing. She would compete in the barrel race course at numerous rodeo competitions all over America. What started in childhood lasted all the way through college.
Barrel racing typically doesn’t command the same size audience that country music superstardom does, nor does it pay the bills as easily. So Reba gave it up.
She won a car when she was sixteen
What would you do for a new car? If you don’t have one, or if you’ve got a clunker, you’d do just about anything.
When you turned sixteen and got your driver’s license, you probably felt that way. Reba won a car at that age. Can you guess how?
She didn’t have to sing for a car, or win a barrel race. No, Reba won a new Ford for writing an essay. She took the title of Miss Ford Country. But she only got to keep the car for six months.
She got a lot out of it during that time: 18,000 miles worth!
Rumors of her death were greatly exaggerated
The life of a celebrity comes with some unwanted attention. For some, not all publicity is good publicity. Like dying when you’re not dead.
From Sinbad to Michael J. Fox to Sylvester Stallone, certain celebs have had to prove they were still with us. Reba McEntire is no exception.
Reba was in Austria shooting a movie in 2012 when she plunged off a mountain to her untimely demise. Taking to Twitter to comment on her death… was Reba McEntire.
Reba was alive. She wasn’t in Austria, nor was she shooting a movie. And a stunned world learned that not everything it reads on the Internet is true.
She gave up something she loved
Reba grew up on a ranch. Her early days riding horses, hanging around rodeos—even vaccinating bulls—was a part of who she was.
So during her first marriage to Charlie Battles, the two owned and operated a cattle ranch in Oklahoma. What could go wrong?
Well, the marriage went wrong. The two divorced in 1987. And with their split came a decision on Reba’s part.
She opted to pack all her things in a single day and start over in Nashville. Said Reba of her ex-husband: “I wasn’t the little girl anymore, taking orders and doing what he said.”
She’s got a favorite drink
Everybody’s got a beloved food or drink. That go-to glass or dish is a great comfort when we need it most. Maybe you’re partial to a mint julep, or a good old fashioned draft beer.
There’s a particular combination that Reba prefers.
Her best loved drink is whiskey and 7Up. Not a fan? That’s okay. Maybe you can find common ground in a food she hates.
Nobody likes everything. Some can’t stomach sea food, or cilantro, or broccoli. Reba’s most detested food? Liver. And who can blame her? With that texture and flavor, she’s got a lot of folks on her side.
She’s into fashion
A star’s public appearance is directly connected to the clothes they wear. Reba famously wore a sheer, sequined red dress at the 1993 CMA awards. She wore it again—yup, the same dress—at the 2018 ACM awards.
But she’s not interested in only dressing herself.
Reba’s got a fashion line at department store Dillard’s. “Women should feel terrific and confident about how they look each moment of their lives and the clothes that we wear play a huge role in evoking these feelings,” she said. “I created ‘Reba’ to help women achieve this.”
No word on if that red dress is available at Dillard’s.
She’s not the only successful singer in her family
Talent comes in bunches in many households. The McEntire clan produced rodeo champions, followed by a music legend.
The kids formed The Singing McEntires, which broke up when Reba made it big. When that happened, sister Susie pursued gospel music. Brother Pake had some bigger ideas.
In 1986, ten years after The Singing McEntires disbanded, Pake had a number three hit on the country charts. It was called “Savin’ My Love for You.” He had two other songs from the same album reach minor hit status as well.
He never achieved Reba’s fame, but having even one hit in the music business is considered a success.
She lost big in 2015
Fans were devastated upon learning Reba and husband of twenty-six years—Narvel Blackstock—were calling it quits. We’ve grown to expect short marriages in the entertainment business, so even a decade of matrimony seems like a lifetime.
Her marriage wasn’t the only thing that went away.
Reba put her lakefront estate, dubbed “Starstruck Farm” on the market. It was listed at $7.9-million. But it sat there for a year. And no one made an offer.
She finally sold it to a real estate developer for only about $5-million. Fortunately, Reba’s net worth is close to $100-million. So she got by.
She was driving before she should have been
Folks that grow up in the country can be a bit lenient with the rules. There’s more open space, fewer hazards to pose a threat.
And if your parents have a ranch, you might need to help out in ways city kids will never know.
Her parents had a ranch in Oklahoma. Her father would often hurl hay off the back of his truck to feed his cattle, as ranchers do. And driving that truck was five-year-old Reba!
If you’re a parent with young kids, we don’t condone this sort of thing. But hey, if they can reach the pedals…
An unlikely actor once portrayed her
When casting real life figures, some choices just make sense. George C. Scott as George S. Patton, for instance? Perfect. John Wayne as Genghis Khan? Bad idea.
Who would you cast as Reba McEntire? Maybe Amy Adams or Bryce Dallas Howard? Saturday Night Live had other ideas.
Reba was played by Keenan Thompson in an SNL Digital Short! Donning a red wig and a country western outfit, the resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think?
In a surprising twist, it turns out Keenan’s character is just a homeless guy who found the wig in a dumpster and convinced Andy Samberg he was Reba McEntire. Talk about method acting.
She gave long lasting advice to another country star
Tricia Yearwood has had a pretty nice career herself as a country music artist. Like any star, she looked up to her idols in the business before she made it herself.
For her, it was Reba. So what did the Queen of Country Music have to say to Tricia?
When she was just getting started, Yearwood saw McEntire as a smart businesswoman. Whatever she was doing, Tricia wanted to emulate. Since artists often let others influence the decisions they make, Reba told Tricia to take control of her career right away.
Yearwood listened. She says it was the best advice she ever received.
Her health is important
If you’re going to have a long lasting career, you’ve got to keep in shape. You’ve got to eat right and you’ve got to exercise.
Reba does sit-ups, pushups, planks, and squats. She also drinks powdered shakes every morning with pineapple, black cherries, and cinnamon. But every now and then, she cheats.
So what’s a cheat meal for Reba McEntire, you might ask?
Easy. Beans and cornbread, fried potatoes and iced tea. Sounds like a perfectly sensible southern meal. Who among us could resist that? Well, Reba does more often than not. The result has been more than four decades of great performances.
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Let’s count down the richest living actors and actresses. We bet you’ll be shocked at how much some of them are worth.
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