NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Powerful, emotive recording artist. Dynamic, charismatic live performer. Acclaimed Broadway star. Successful film and television actress. With an unparalleled resumé that spans more than four decades and several entertainment genres, Oklahoma native Reba McEntire is country music’s ultimate Renaissance woman.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will pay tribute to this inimitable artist with the cameo exhibition “Reba: All the Women I Am,” which opens in the museum’s East Gallery on Aug. 9. The exhibit will remain on view through June 8, 2014, according to a news release.
“Reba is the most successful female country performer of her generation, and a major influence on many of the female recording artists who have followed her,” said Museum Director Kyle Young in a news release.
“Her achievements and accolades are almost too numerous to mention: She has sold more than 40 million records, charted nearly 60 Top Ten singles and 24 No. 1 hits, and been honored with nearly 50 major awards, including two Grammy awards, the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year award and the Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year award; she is also one of only four entertainers in history to receive the National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress. And, of course, she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011.
“It’s impossible to overstate Reba’s impact on country music, and her contributions go well beyond recording,” Young continued. “She heightened production values for country concerts, adding elaborate stages, video screens and multiple costume changes. Such innovations are now de rigueur on the tours of top country artists. Furthermore, through her work on Broadway, in film, and as the star of two television comedies, Reba has helped to heighten and expand the profile of country music, lifting all boats in her magnificent wake. We are looking forward to telling the rich, inspiring and always entertaining story of one of country music’s brightest lights.”
Reba Nell McEntire was born in McAlester on March 28, 1955, and grew up in Chockie on a cattle ranch, traveling regularly to rodeos with her father, champion calf roper Clark McEntire. Influenced by their mother, Jackie, who was a talented singer, Reba and her siblings Pake and Susie began performing as the Singing McEntires while in high school.
In 1974, Reba sang the national anthem at the National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City; cowboy singer Red Steagall heard her and financed a recording session, which led to her signing with Mercury Records in 1975. Reba began releasing singles in 1976, and two years later she scored her first Top 20 hit with “Three Sheets in the Wind,” a duet with Jacky Ward. In 1980, she notched her first Top 10 single, “(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven,” and garnered her first No. 1s in 1982–83 with “Can’t Even Get the Blues” and “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving.”
After a move to MCA Records in 1983, Reba took more control of her career and material and, over the next decade, produced a slew of now-classic country hits including “How Blue,” “Somebody Should Leave,” “Whoever’s in New England,” “The Last One to Know” and many more. A series of groundbreaking headliner tours to support her hits consolidated Reba’s status as a music superstar. During this time, music videos became an important vehicle for reaching fans; Reba’s clip for “Whoever’s in New England” sparked an interest in acting, and in 1990 she appeared in her first film, Tremors. She went on to appear in 10 more films, to date.
In March 1991, Reba suffered a personal tragedy when seven members of her band, her road manager, and the pilot and co-pilot of a chartered private jet were killed in a plane crash. Reba took an extended break from touring and recorded the album For My Broken Heart. The record, which contained a handful of hits, including the title song, “Is There Life Out There” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” became one of her best sellers.
Throughout the 1990s, Reba continued her chart success: Her many hits during the decade include “The Heart Won’t Lie” (with Vince Gill), “Does He Love You” (with Linda Davis) and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
In January 2001, Reba stepped into the title role of the Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Her bravura portrayal garnered universal critical acclaim, with the New York Times hailing the performance as “without qualification the best performance by an actress in a musical comedy this season.” Fans of musical theater agreed, as the show was sold out through most of Reba’s five-month run.
From 2001 to 2007, Reba starred in her own hit comedy series, “Reba.” When the show ended, she refocused her efforts on touring and recording; in 2008, she left MCA Records and signed with Valory Music Group, a subsidiary of Big Machine Records. Her first album for the label, “Keep on Loving You,” was released in August 2009; it debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard country chart and the all-genre Billboard 200 album chart and featured the No. 1 single “Consider Me Gone.”
A savvy businesswoman, in 1988 Reba founded Starstruck Entertainment, a multi-dimensional corporation encompassing booking, management, music publishing, a recording studio and transportation services. In 1989, she married her manager, Narvel Blackstock; he continues to oversee Starstruck’s many enterprises.
Although Reba was awarded country music’s highest honor in 2011 with her election to the Country Music Hall of Fame, her career shows no signs of slowing down: She is currently starring in the ABC comedy “Malibu Country,” and her most recent album, “All the Women I Am,” spawned the No. 1 hit “Turn on the Radio.”
“Reba: All the Women I Am” will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit’s duration.
For more information, go to http://countrymusichalloffame.org.