At 62-years-old, Reba McEntire has already managed to inspire multiple generations of female singers who strive to have a career and voice as powerful as hers.
McEntire started her singing career in the ’70s while she was in college. Since then, she’s become the only woman to achieve a No. 1 hit four decades in a row. With her successes in singing, songwriting, acting and producing, there are plenty of interesting factoids about this bubbly redhead to uncover.
Here are some aspects of McEntire’s illustrious life that only her biggest fans know.
Reba’s Mom Sparked Her Love For Music
Reba’s mother, Jacqueline, loved music and even had quiet aspirations to become a country singer herself. She taught her children how to harmonize with one another while they spent long hours in the car traveling from rodeo to rodeo that their family participated in.
Things came full circle when Reba invited her mom to sing on her gospel record, Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope.
Her Family Holds A Legacy of Rodeo Championships
In 1934, Reba’s grandfather, Jon Wesley McEntire, earned the title of Steer Roping World Champion, and his son (and Reba’s father), Clark McEntire, went on to hold the same title for three years. Clark was even inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Of course, since there’s nothing Reba can’t do, she too has taken the stage on the rodeo as more than a singer. She competed in the barrel races, and there’s even a rare video of her out there barrel racing.
You Can Still Join Her College Signing Group, the Chorvettes
While attending college at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, McEntire mainly focused on getting her degree in elementary education. She was planning on becoming a schoolteacher (like her mom), but her musical talents lead her elsewhere.
McEntire chose to minor in music and joined the campus singing group called the Chorvettes. The group is still around and performs old-school country, gospel and 1950s hits on campus and for events, banquets and conferences. The Chorvettes consist of men and women who can carry a tune and throw in a little choreography as they sing.
Tragedy Struck Her Band
Newer fans might not realize that McEntire suffered many losses when a plane carrying 7 members of her band and her tour manager crashed in 1991 near San Diego, Calif. Everyone on board died, and McEntire experienced survivor’s guilt as she could have been on the flight too, but decided to spend the night in San Diego since she wasn’t feeling well.
Waylon Jennings, who had given up his seat on the 1959 flight that killed Buddy Holly, bonded with McEntire and helped her to process the awful accident. With an avalanche of emotions, she went on to record her somber, heartfelt record, From My Broken Heart.
Reba Had To Turn Down A Role In Titanic
After McEntire made her film debut in the movie Tremors in 1990, she continued to take on fun roles in film and TV. In 1995, she was even director James Cameron’s first choice to play the “unsinkable” Molly Brown in the megahit movie, Titanic. Due to scheduling conflicts with her tour, McEntire had to turn down the offer and it was given to Kathy Bates.
But the Titanic turn-down didn’t phase McEntire’s creative career. By the time the film came out in 1997, Reba was on tour with Brooks & Dunn supporting her successful 20th studio album, What If It’s You.
She Also Turned Down Faith Hill As A Backup Singer
At the beginning of her music career, Faith Hill auditioned to be a backup singer for McEntire but wasn’t given the part. If she had received the role, she likely would have been on the flight that crashed in 1991. During an interview, Larry King asked Hill how she felt about being turned down and avoiding the accident.
Hill said, in part, “Well, I didn’t get it because I wasn’t good enough. 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.”
Of course, Hill still idolizes McEntire, and the two even recorded a duet called “Sleeping With the Telephone” in for McEntire’s 2007 record, Reba: Duets.
McEntire Has A Contralto Vocal Range
McEntire’s beautiful voice is often considered to be in the contralto vocal range, which falls between the F below middle C (F3) and reaches up to two Fs above middle C (F5) and can extend on either end of the scale. Basically, it means she has a rich middle and lower range that helps to give her music a literal and figurative depth.
Though she often sings in the higher part of her range on choruses, one can hear the strength of her lower range in many of her hits, listen carefully to “Fancy” and you’ll hear her contralto range shine.
Reba Was Almost Named Sally
From 2001 to 2007, McEntire starred in a hit sitcom bearing her name, Reba. But the original title of the show was actually meant to be Sally!
Thankfully, McEntire nudged producers and let them know that her fans would definitely respond better to her real name being used on the show. They listened, and her sitcom character’s name ended up as Reba Nell Hart, taking on her real middle name, as well.
Reba’s Son Is A Race Car Driver
McEntire, who learned to drive stick when she was only 11-years-old, told Us Weekly that she doesn’t like to drive fast, yet, her son, Shelby Blackstock is a professional race car driver signed with Andretti Autosport. Shelby even dropped out of college to pursue his dream after attending a Bob Bondurant race school.
She Likes To Eat Corndogs On Private Planes
McEntire may have an amazing talent and career that most of us can only dream of, but she’s still a country gal at heart. Recently she managed to get a bunch of corndogs on her private plane for herself and her friends/crew who posed with their delicious meal for Instagram.
But this isn’t even the first time McEntire posted a picture of herself chowing down on a corndog on a private plane! In 2015, she posted the following adorable photo as the epitome of #goals. Note the pointed pinky, adding a bit of class to holding a cup of ketchup in a way only McEntire could.
McEntire is truly a down to earth icon.