Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 28 March 1954, McAlester OK) The most successful female country singer of her era; also an actress and a dynamic businesswoman. The 'outlaw' movement (see Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings etc) reacted against the slick 'countrypolitan' studio style; McEntire, along with Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, the Judds, George Strait, etc is one of the artists who started a renaissance of traditional country musical values, many crossing over with good and astute choice of songs. Red Steagall helped her get a Mercury contract '75 and she first reached the country charts '76; she fought free of stylistic influences and found her own excellent voice: Mercury albums included Unlimited, Feel The Fire and Behind The Scene; she switched to MCA '83 with Just A Little Love and the breakthrough My Kind Of Country with two no. 1 country singles ('How Blue' and 'Somebody Should Leave'). She was written up in the press from Rolling Stone and the Village Voice to the Wall Street Journal; she has won every award the industry has and in '87 was the first to be named CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year four years in a row, as well as Entertainer of the Year '86.

The commercial breakthrough coincided with a divorce from Charlie Battles and a second marriage to band musician Narvel Blackstock; they took over McEntire's management and career development and their giant Starstruck Entertainment handled bookings, management, publicity, song publishing, video production, transportation, etc for Reba and a host of other country stars; they built a multi-million-dollar building complex '96 housing studios, offices, etc on Nashville's Music Row. By then she was established as the biggest-selling country female singer of all time; People magazine named her in the top three female vocalists of any genre in USA '88. She starred in horror film Tremors '90 plus several TV movies; and suffered personal and professional tragedy when seven members of her band died in a plane crash '91, dedicating her next album For My Broken Heart to her friends and colleagues.

Virtually all single releases after '84 went top ten, most hitting the top; she teamed up with Vince Gill for award-winning no. 1 'The Heart Won't Lie' '93; with Linda Davis on award-winning 'Does He Love You' '93; the controversial AIDS song 'She Thinks His Name Was John' showed she was prepared to take risks on the conservative country market (she'd previously recorded a wife-abuse song, 'The Stairs', and female-slanted 'Is There Life Out There'); her videos were among the most expensive and well-produced in country music and her live shows were choreographed with costume changes, lighting effects and moving stage props more akin to rock acts than country music as she became one of the top box office draws in any kind of music, second only to Garth Brooks in ticket sales. She moved away from straight country to include R&B, soul and pop influences, especially on revivals such as 'Respect' and 'Sunday Kind Of Love', but was still responsible for bringing down-home country to a mass audience outside of the Southern States.

Her older brother Pake McEntire (b Dale Stanley McEntire, 23 June 1953) recorded two albums for RCA in the mid-'80s and a handful of top ten country hits, became a successful rancher and rodeo rider. Younger sister Susie Luchsinger (b Martha Susan McEntire, 8 November 1956) is a well-known Christian country singer. Reba's other albums for MCA included Whoever's In New England '86, What Am I Gonna Do About You '86, The Last One To Know '87, Reba '88, Sweet Sixteen '89, Live '89, Rumor Has It '90, For My Broken Heart '91, It's Your Call '92, Read My Mind '94, Starting Over '95, What If It's You '96. The best of her Mercury work was collected on two-CD Oklahoma Girl '94; You Lift Me Up To Heaven appeared on Polygram Special Products.

Reba embarked on her second TV series, Malibu Country, in 2012. Though her marriager to Blackstock has endured, the TV scripts portrayed her as divorced from a philandering husband, but the new one also made her a country singer whose career had passed its peak.