Nashville recording artist, television star and all-around entertainer Reba McEntire remains a creative force in country music. The Oklahoma native charted her first number one hit in 1982, and she hasn’t slowed down since.She has a song for every mood, it seems, from sentimental weepers (“Bobby,” “He’s in Dallas”), surprisingly honest tales of love (“One Promise Too Late,” “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” “Wrong Night”) and upbeat dance numbers (“Consider Me Gone”) to as good a version of “Mary, Did You Know?” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” as you’ll find.
These 15 Reba McEntire songs exemplify the varied career and celebrated talents of one of the most endearing and enduring voices in popular music.
Songwriting certainly ranks among the most important tools in a country singer’s toolbox, but let’s not sleep on the importance of masterfully interpreting others’ songs. McEntire demonstrates that talent here, bringing new life to an old Vicki Lawrence hit.
The strongest example of McEntire’s vocal range and artistic adaptability came when she covered an old Etta James classic. The single allowed McEntire to revisit music she likely heard as a little girl, making her a new player in an old game.
Mighty voices and music genres converged for the ideal pop crossover duet. It demonstrates McEntire’s ability to change with the times, as the duet matched the sound of mainstream country circa 2007.
McEntire totally changes the pace and tone of this Everly Brothers classic. Instead of a teeny-bopper dance number, the classic oldie becomes a slower tempo country song about a new fool with an honest heart, pursuing an ill-advised relationship.
McEntire introduced a new generation of listeners to arguably the second greatest song by Bobbie Gentry. This tale of a mother wanting more for her daughter further cemented McEntire as a talented interpreter of songs. “Fancy” has become one of the signature Reba McEntire songs.
Linda Davis might lack the star power today of other singing partners on this list, but her duet with McEntire remains a high point in both singers’ careers. The song became a recurring part of McEntire’s career whenever the situation called for a duet with another talented woman.
McEntire’s first number one hit, released in 1982, aged quite well as other hits rolled in. Stylistically, its boogie-woogie feel sounds like something that could’ve charted in the ’90s, making it ahead of its time.
Marriages that don’t line up with forever love are as much a part of country songwriting as d-i-v-o-r-c-e. McEntire explores the frustrations of a married woman tempted to slip off that “little rock” on her finger and find a new love.
McEntire becomes the suspicious wife, wondering why her husband takes so many business trips to New England. Touchingly, she doesn’t harbor a single thought about leaving, leaving the door open for another return home.
Who exactly sings quite as powerfully as Reba McEntire? Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame makes the sort list, for sure. Here, the two once-in-a-generation talents share mutual secret love for each others’ character. In the video, their secrets are safe with Kix.
Among the most iconic hits that paved the way for a more pop-friendly landscape in Nashville, this song and its accompanying video allowed McEntire to flaunt her comedic talents with a little dark comedy. Think of both as the country music equivalent of a really good romantic comedy.
A traditionalist before traditionalists became cool again, Vince Gill‘s smooth vocal delivery provides the ideal call-and-response to McEntire in this tale of would-be lovers. Both artists represent a whole generation of talents with an ear for the past and ambitions to reshape the then-current landscape of country music.
McEntire spoke for many who’ve lost a father in one of the most touching singles in recent memory. The greatest songs resound with listeners on a deep emotional level, and this one should hit home for all fans, even if Dad still lives there.
In 1991, a plane crash killed members of McEntire’s touring band. Her first trip to the studio after that tragedy spawned this gorgeous and gutting song about outliving a loved one. Even without that context, this song would rank high among her all-time hits.
McEntire tackled a hot-button issue of the ’80s and ’90s head-on with this song about a young woman who got HIV from a one night stand. She proved to be the right country singer to fully emote the heartbreak, loss and uncertainty then associated with the virus.