Born on March 28, 1955 in Oklahoma, Reba McEntire grew up to be a country triple threat: singer, actress and businesswoman. The country queen has sold more then 75 million records, starred on her own TV show and launched her own clothing line. Read on to see her transformation from a new artist in the 1970s to today's country royalty.
1970s: McEntire Signs Her First Record Contract
Reba McEntire is the third of four children and was raised on a ranch in Chockie, Oklahoma. Her mother encouraged her children's interest in music, which led three of the siblings (including Reba) to form the Singing McEntires. They performed locally and in nearby Oklahoma City at bars and dancehalls. After recording a demo tape in Nashville, Reba signed a record contract with PolyGram/Mercury Records in 1975. The label released McEntire's self-titled debut album in 1977 and she began touring regularly, telling jokes in between songs while the various house bands she played with tried to keep up. McEntire's cover of Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" on her second album in 1979 became McEntire's first top-20 country hit.
1980s: McEntire Gets Her Big Breakthrough
In 1984, McEntire released her eighth studio album, My Kind of Country. The album, which includes the number-one country hits "Somebody Should Leave" and "How Blue," proved to be the breakthrough McEntire had been waiting for her entire life. The Country Music Association named McEntire 1984's Female Vocalist of the Year. On her 1986 album Whoever's in New England, McEntire started incorporating more contemporary sounds into the traditional country music she had been making up to that point. The title track earned McEntire the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. 1988's Reba is more pop inspired than any of her previous records and contains the hits "New Fool at an Old Game" and "I Know How He Feels."
1990s: McEntire Loses Eight Band Members in a Tragic Accident
On March 16, 1991, a small plane carrying eight members of McEntire's touring band lost their lives when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff in San Diego. "By the time that long, terrible weekend was over, we were emotionally and physically exhausted," said McEntire in her autobiography. McEntire dedicated her 1991 album, For My Broken Heart, to her deceased bandmates. Despite the tragedy, the hits kept coming for McEntire in 1990s, including the number-one country songs "Is There Life Out There," "You Lie," "For My Broken Heart," "The Heart Won't Lie," "Does He Love You," "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," "How Was I to Know," and "If You See Him/If You See Her" with Brooks & Dunn.
2000s: Reba Is a Hit TV Show
In the 2000s, McEntire's acting career took off. In 2001, she played Annie Oakley on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun. She then starred as wisecracking single mom Reba Nell Hart on the WB's Reba, which aired from 2001 to 2007. Pictured above is McEntire with guest star Dolly Parton on the set of Reba in 2005. Due to her acting obligations, McEntire didn't release as many albums in the aughts as she did in previous decades, but she still racked up number-one country hits such as "Somebody" and "Consider Me Gone" by the end of the decade.
2010s: McEntire Shows All the Women I Am
McEntire released her 29th studio album, All the Women I Am, in November 2010. The album contains the number-one country hit "Turn on the Radio" as well as the top-10 country hit "I Keep on Loving You." She is pictured above performing at the American Country Awards in Las Vegas a month after the release of All the Women I Am. McEntire's second TV sitcom, Malibu Country, debuted in 2012 and only lasted one season. She continued recording, releasing albums such as Love Somebody, My Kind of Christmas, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope and Stronger Than the Truth by the end of the decade.
2020s: McEntire Gets a New Man and New Podcast
McEntire, who divorced her second husband in 2015, began dating CSI: Miami actor Rex Linn in 2020, the same year she started a podcast with Reba costar Melissa Peterman called Living & Learning. McEntire released her 34th album, Revived Remixed Revisited, in 2021, proving not even a worldwide pandemic is gonna slow this sixtysomething resilient redhead down. McEntire has won three Grammys and holds the record for the most American Music Awards for Favorite Country Female Artist with 12. She told the Net Music Countdown website, "Whatever I'm doing, I feel like I'm representing country music. It's always been my main career, and it's where my loyalties lie. I feel like I'm waving the flag of country music wherever I go, and I couldn't be prouder to do it."
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