At 68 years old, Reba McEntire has this physical status:
In November 1975, McEntire signed a country music recording contract with PolyGram/Mercury Records. She made her first recordings for the label in January 1976. She was produced by Glenn Keener and was backed by a Countrypolitan arrangement that included a string section. McEntire's debut single was released in 1976 titled "I Don't Want to Be a One Night Stand". The track failed to become a major hit, only peaking at number 88 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart that May. It was followed by the low-charting Billboard country singles "(There's Nothing Like the Love) Between a Woman and Man" and "Glad I Waited Just for You". Mercury issued her self-titled debut album in 1977. In his album review, Greg Adams of AllMusic compared it to the country crossover style of Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette. McEntire also began touring and performing more frequently. Without a band of her own, she often relied on house bands to accompany her. In some instances, the backing bands did not know country music and McEntire would have to fill her time onstage with jokes.
McEntire's career gained more momentum by 1978. That year she collaborated on two singles with country artist Jacky Ward. The duo's double-sided release of "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight"/"Three Sheets in the Wind" became her first top 20 hit on the country chart. When Glenn Keener left the PolyGram/Mercury roster, McEntire inherited producer Jerry Kennedy. Kennedy produced her second studio album titled Out of a Dream (1979). The album's cover of Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" became her first top 20 hit as a solo artist. Four additional top 40 country singles were spawned from the album as well. By 1980, McEntire had formed her own band which included sister Susie and brother Pake McEntire. She also hired a new manager. McEntire and her band toured to dates in a three-car caravan, which included a horse trailer for transporting instruments. She later upgraded to a bus nicknamed "Silver Eagle", which routinely broke down. Also in 1980, "(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven" became her first top ten hit on the country songs chart. It was included on her third studio album, Feel the Fire, which was released in October.
By this point, McEntire's label pushed her to record music in a soft country pop style that she often disagreed with. Future material (which included her next album) was recorded in this format. Her fourth album, Heart to Heart was issued in 1981 and became her first disc to chart the Billboard Country Albums list. It received only a 2.5 star review from AllMusic's William Ruhlmann, who described McEntire as being "a promising, but not yet accomplished country artist." Yet its lead single, "Today All Over Again", became her highest charting country single yet, reaching number five. In 1983, McEntire's bus had broken down when she was informed that her latest single "Can't Even Get the Blues" reached the number one spot on the Billboard country chart. It was followed by her second number one song "You're the First Time I Thought About Leaving". The track also became her second to reach the top ten of Canada's RPM country songs chart. Both singles appeared on her 1983 album Unlimited. The following year, the single "Why Do We Want (What We Know We Can't Have)" reached the top ten. With increased success in the country music industry, she was able to arrange an early release from PolyGram/Mercury in 1983. "Let met put it this way, I've sorta taken my career into control myself," she explained of the decision.
McEntire signed with MCA Records in 1984 and released her seventh studio album Just a Little Love. Harold Shedd was originally intended to produce the disc, however, McEntire rejected his desire for a country pop arrangement. Instead, Norro Wilson produced the project. Despite spawning a top ten hit, McEntire was still dissatisfied with the record's production and the lack of control over material. Instead, she turned to MCA president Jimmy Bowen who suggested that she find her own songs to record. Accompanied by Don "Dirt" Lanier, McEntire spent several days listening to various songs from publishing companies. Eventually she found a song written by Harlan Howard titled "Somebody Should Leave" and a song by Jon Moffat titled "How Blue". Released as singles, they reached the number one spot on the country songs chart and later appeared on 1984's My Kind of Country. The collection also included several covers of classic country songs by Ray Price, Charley Pride and Connie Smith. AllMusic's William Ruhlmann gave the disc 4.5 stars. Billboard magazine described McEntire on the album as being "the finest woman country singer since Kitty Wells." The album became her breakthrough recording, leading McEntire to winning 1984's Female Vocalist of the Year accolade from the Country Music Association. Along with music by George Strait and Randy Travis, the album also brought forth a stylistic change in country towards traditional arrangements and sounds.
Her next MCA album was 1985's Have I Got a Deal for You. The project followed the same traditional country format of its predecessor. It was produced by Jimmy Bowen, along with co-production credits from McEntire herself. The album 's title track reached the Billboard country top ten along with "Only in My Mind", a song composed by McEntire herself. In February 1986, her ninth studio album was released named Whoever's in New England. On the record, McEntire and co-producer Jimmy Bowen mixed a traditional country style with a modern, contemporary sound. Author Kurt Wolff described the title track's production, as being "bigger and sentimentalism more obvious, even manipulative". Issued as the lead single, the title track peaked at number one on the Billboard country chart and won McEntire the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. The album itself became her first to top the Billboard Country Albums survey. and later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of one million copies.
By this point McEntire had reached the height of her commercial stardom. Following this, McEntire made changes to her stage show. She began implementing choreography and experimented with stage lighting. Also in 1986, McEntire's twelfth studio album appeared titled What Am I Gonna Do About You. AllMusic found that it lacked the features that had made Whoever's in New England unique. The title track was the lead single from the release. It became her next number one song on the Billboard country chart and her first number one on the RPM Canadian country chart. Its second single "One Promise Too Late" also topped the country chart. Her thirteenth studio project, The Last One to Know, was released in 1987 and reached number three on the Billboard country albums chart. Reviewer Tom Roland noted that McEntire chose material that reflected her recent divorce from first husband Charlie Battles. Both the title track and "Love Will Find Its Way to You" topped the Billboard country songs chart. In late 1987, McEntire released her first Christmas collection called Merry Christmas to You. Also in 1987, she played Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.
In the late 1980s, McEntire took more control of her career. She fired her manager and formed her own entertainment company that helped further promote her material. Other new changes included her 1988 pop-inspired release Reba. Her fifteenth studio disc included covers of the former pop hits "Respect" and "A Sunday Kind of Love". It produced the number one Billboard country singles "New Fool at an Old Game" and "I Know How He Feels". It was followed by 1989's Sweet Sixteen, which was noted to be a more of a "return[s] to the neo-traditionalist fold", according to reviewer William Ruhlmann. The album featured the country hits "'Til Love Comes Again", "Little Girl", "Walk On" and a cover of "Cathy's Clown". Her first live project titled Reba Live was also released in 1989.
Rumor Has It (1990) was another pop-oriented album release featuring a mix of ballads and uptempo numbers. It was the first disc in McEntire's career to reach the top 40 of the Billboard 200 albums chart. The disc would become McEntire's highest-selling album, certifying three-times platinum from the RIAA. Four hit country singles came from the release, including "You Lie" and her cover of "Fancy". The latter single eventually became one of McEntire's signature songs.
In the late 1980s, McEntire's touring schedule became increasingly busy. To avoid long bus trips, she and her band began traveling by private planes to concerts. McEntire and her touring band started the 1991 leg of their tour with dates in Alaska, Saginaw, Michigan, Fort Wayne, Indiana and a private gig for IBM in San Diego, California. Two planes were scheduled to leave San Diego which would carry McEntire's band. McEntire, her husband and her stylist would take a different aircraft the next day. In the middle of the night on March 16, 1991, McEntire was awoken to a phone call from Roger Woolsey, who flew the second plane. McEntire's husband took the call and discovered that one of the planes had crashed. Following the successful takeoff of both planes, one plane's wing hit the side of Otay Mountain in San Diego, killing everyone on board.
In total, eight members of her band were killed: Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Anthony Saputo, and Michael Thomas. In addition pilot Donald Holmes and co-pilot Chris Hollinger were also killed. The first plane was a Hawker Siddeley DH-125-1A/522 charter jet that took off at 1:40 AM from the Brown Field Municipal Airport, located near the border of Mexico. After reaching an altitude of 3,400 feet (1,040 m) above sea level, the aircraft crashed on the side of Otay Mountain, located 10 miles (16 km) east of the airport. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the probable cause of the accident was related to "improper pilot planning".
Meanwhile, the second plane carrying the rest of her band made it successfully to an airport in Nashville. McEntire, her husband and hair stylist returned on their own plane following the accident. "By the time that long, terrible weekend was over, we were emotionally and physically exhausted," McEntire stated in her autobiography. The news was reported nearly immediately to McEntire and her husband, who were sleeping at a nearby hotel. A spokeswoman for McEntire made a statement to The Los Angeles Times on behalf of her: "She was very close to all of them. Some of them had been with her for years. Reba is totally devastated by this. It's like losing part of your family. Right now she just wants to get back to Nashville." Two days after the crash, McEntire conducted an interview with People magazine and scheduled a memorial service for the families of the victims. Nine days following the accident, McEntire performed at the 63rd Academy Awards ceremony, singing the Best Original Song nominee "I'm Checkin' Out" from the film Postcards from the Edge. In addition, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton offered their help in reorganizing her touring band.
McEntire dedicated her sixteenth album, For My Broken Heart, to the deceased members of her road band. Released in October 1991, it contained songs of sorrow and lost love about "all measure of suffering", according to Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly. Nash reported that McEntire "still hits her stride with the more traditional songs of emotional turmoil, above all combining a spectacular vocal performance with a terrific song on 'Buying Her Roses', a wife's head-spinning discovery of her husband's other woman." The disc peaked at number three on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. It also became her highest-charting release on the Billboard 200 yet, peaking at number 13. It later sold over four million copies in the United States, becoming her best-selling album to date. Its title track and "Is There Life Out There" both became number one Billboard country singles. In addition, "The Greatest Man I Never Knew" and McEntire's cover of "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" both became major country hits.
In December 1992, McEntire's seventeenth album It's Your Call was released. A sign of her increased mainstream success, the album was her first to reach the top ten of the Billboard 200. It spawned the country hits "Take It Back", the title track and a number one duet with Vince Gill called "The Heart Won't Lie". Critic Brian Mansfield compared the disc to For My Broken Heart, concluding that "only casual or partial listeners will be moved as much." Christopher John Farley of Time wrote that the album ranged from being "relaxing" to "cathartic", and "these vocals from one of the best country singers linger in the mind". For her next release, McEntire collaborated with up-and-coming artist Linda Davis on the single "Does He Love You". MCA Records encouraged McEntire to record the track with more established acts like Wynonna Judd or Trisha Yearwood, but ultimately finalized the track with Davis. It became her eighteenth number one hit on the Country Songs chart and her sixteenth number one hit on the Canadian country chart. It was later included on her 1993 compilation Greatest Hits Volume Two. Later that year, Davis and McEntire performed the duet at the CMA Awards. For her performance, McEntire wore a red dress with a plunging neckline that created controversy among the Nashville community.
Her eighteenth studio release was 1994's Read My Mind. The disc reached number two on both the Billboard 200 and the Top Country Albums chart. The disc later reached sales of three million copies in the United States and certified three times platinum from the RIAA. Five major hits came from the release, including "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", "Till You Love Me" and a song about a woman contracting AIDS called "She Thinks His Name Was John". The latter recording only reached a top 20 charting position due to its controversial lyrics. McEntire's nineteenth studio album, Starting Over (1995) is a collection of her favorite songs originally recorded by others. The album was made to commemorate McEntire's twenty years in the music industry. The album received a less favorable response from critics than that of her previous releases. While the project spawned three charting singles, only McEntire's cover of "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands" became a top ten country song. Starting Over was certified platinum by the RIAA within the first two months of its release.
McEntire's next album release What If It's You was issued by MCA in November 1996. The record was a return to a contemporary country sound. It debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200 and eventually topped the Billboard country albums list. It received a more favorable response from radio programmers than that of her 1995 album and received greater promotion. Critic Thom Owens noted that the project "[didn't] offer any new tricks from Reba McEntire, but it is nevertheless an excellent reminder of her deep talents as a vocalist." Its first single, "The Fear of Being Alone" became a top five hit, while "How Was I to Know" reached the number one spot on the Billboard country songs survey.
McEntire began touring with country duo Brooks & Dunn during the mid 1990s. Their touring collaborating led to the recording of a duet titled "If You See Him/If You See Her" in 1998. The track topped both the Billboard country songs chart and the Canadian RPM country chart. Their initial collaborations would lead to several more professional endeavors over the years, including a joint Las Vegas residency. The duet was included on McEntire's If You See Him album and Brooks & Dunn's If You See Her album, both of which were released in June 1998. Thom Owens found that both album titles were named nearly the same as "a way to draw attention for both parties, since they were no longer new guns—they were veterans in danger of losing ground to younger musicians". If You See Him produced three more top ten country hits including "Forever Love" and "One Honest Heart".
In 1999, McEntire released two albums. In September she issued her second Christmas album, The Secret of Giving: A Christmas Collection. In November, her twenty-second studio album, So Good Together was released. Entertainment Weekly commented that most of the album's material was "an odd set—mostly ballads, including an English/Portuguese duet with Jose e Durval on Boz Scaggs' 'We're All Alone'". It featured the top five country songs "What Do You Say" and "I'll Be". McEntire focused on an acting career in the early 2000s and took a temporary musical hiatus. One exception was 2001's "I'm a Survivor". The single became a top five country hit and the theme song to McEntire's 2001 television series.
McEntire returned to her recording career in August 2003 with the release of the MCA single "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain". The song was included on her first studio album in four years titled Room to Breathe (November 2003). "The reason I named the album Room to Breathe is because I needed a little room to breathe," McEntire told Billboard. The 12-track disc was produced by Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson. It also featured a guest appearance from Vince Gill. Room to Breathe debuted at number four on the Billboard country chart and later certified platinum in the United States. It spawned McEntire's first number one song in six years titled "Somebody". Also featured was the top ten single "He Gets That from Me". In 2004, she embarked on her first tour in several years also titled "Room to Breathe", which included 36 cities in the United States. In 2005, MCA released the double-disc compilation titled Reba #1's while she was in between albums.
In September 2007, McEntire's next studio disc was released titled Reba: Duets. The album was a collection of duets with various music artists, including Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Trisha Yearwood, Carole King, and Justin Timberlake. Reba: Duets topped the Billboard country chart and the Billboard 200, becoming her first album in her career to reach the top of both lists. Reba: Duets was later certified platinum by the RIAA. The album was given high critical praise from magazines such as PopMatters, which compared McEntire to artists like Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. AllMusic's Thom Jurek gave it 3.5 stars, commenting that "it's full of good to great songs delivered in mostly interesting ways." The first single was a duet version of Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You", which reached number two on the American country chart and topped the Canadian country songs chart.
In 2008, McEntire announced that she would be departing her label of 25 years and signing with the Valory Music Group, an imprint of Big Machine Records. The switch to Valory reunited McEntire with the label's president, Scott Borchetta, whom she had worked with previously. Her first Valory single was 2009's "Strange". The song debuted at number 39 Billboard country songs chart, giving McEntire the highest single debut of her career and peaked at number eleven. Her twenty-sixth studio album, Keep On Loving You was released in August 2009 and also topped both the Billboard Country and 200 charts. In 2009, "Consider Me Gone" (spawned as the record's second single) became her 24th number-one on the Billboard chart in December. At age 54, McEntire became one of the oldest women to have a number one single on the country songs chart.
McEntire's twenty-ninth studio album All the Women I Am was released in November 2010. Steve Morse of The Boston Globe called the project "one of her best efforts", while Thom Jurek at AllMusic only gave it a 2.5 star rating, calling it "awkward" and lacking a "center". "Turn On the Radio" was issued as the lead single prior to the album, eventually becoming her twenty-fourth number one on the Billboard country survey. Three additional charting singles were spawned from All the Women I Am that peaked outside the top 20. Her All the Women I Am Tour followed shortly after featuring country acts the Band Perry, Steel Magnolia, and Edens Edge.
In 2014, McEntire moved to Big Machine's new imprint for veteran artists titled Nash Icon Music. Her first Nash Icon single was 2015's "Going Out Like That", which reached the top 25 of the Billboard country songs chart. It was included on her 2015 Nash Icon album Love Somebody. The album topped the country albums chart and charted the top five of the Billboard 200. In 2016, McEntire released a third Christmas-themed studio album called My Kind of Christmas. The album was exclusively sold at Cracker Barrel and online. She also announced she would soon be selling her own line of clothing, home decor, jewelry and other things under the "Rockin' R by Reba" line also at Cracker Barrel.
After her split from ex-husband Narvel Blackstock, McEntire took control of her career as her own manager. She recruited Justin McIntosh of Starstruck Entertainment, Leslie Matthews serving as Brand Manager, and Carolyn Snell who has been with McEntire for nine years. They formed Reba's Business Inc. (RBI). She moved out of the building she and Blackstock had worked in, and moved her company to Green Hills, Nashville.
On December 15, 2016, McEntire announced that she was releasing her first gospel album titled Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. It was released by Nash Icon/Rockin' R Records on February 3, 2017, and consists of two discs. Disc one contains traditional hymns while disc two contains original tracks. "Softly and Tenderly", featuring Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood, was the first track off the album released. Another track on the album, "In the Garden/Wonderful Peace", features the Isaacs. Jay DeMarcus of the Rascal Flatts produced the album. The first single off the album is "Back to God". In January 2018, McEntire won the Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album, her first nomination since 2007, and her first Grammy Award win in more than twenty years, since 1994. She also headlined the C2C: Country to Country festival in the UK alongside Brad Paisley and Zac Brown Band in March. Because of its limited release in 2016, on October 13, 2017 My Kind of Christmas was re-released - this time including songs with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Darius Rucker and Lauren Daigle - on her website and through iTunes. In July 2018, it was announced that McEntire would be one of four honorees for the 41st annual Kennedy Center Honors, along with Cher, Philip Glass, and Wayne Shorter. The ceremony was held December 2, 2018, and broadcast on CBS December 26, 2018.
McEntire released her twenty-ninth studio album Stronger Than the Truth on April 5, 2019. McEntire also returned to host the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards on April 8, 2019.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed McEntire among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
On February 20, 2020, during a surprise appearance at the Country Radio Seminar, McEntire announced she had signed a new record deal with MCA Nashville, returning to the label after leaving in November 2008. McEntire hosted the 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards alongside Darius Rucker in November 2020. McEntire previously hosted in 2019 with Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton, 1992 with Vince Gill, 1991 by herself (the second solo female host) and 1990 with Randy Travis. On October 3, 2022, Reba revealed that she would continue her Reba: Live in Concert tour going through 2023 and play New York City's Madison Square Garden for the very first time.
In 1990, she obtained her first film role playing Heather Gummer in the horror comedy Tremors, along with Kevin Bacon. The film told the story of a small group of people living in Nevada who were fighting subterranean worm-like creatures. After the film's release, McEntire developed a strong interest in acting and made it her second career. The film earned McEntire a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 1991 Saturn Awards. The following year, she starred along with Kenny Rogers and Burt Reynolds in the made-for-television movies The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw and The Man From Left Field. In 1994, McEntire worked with director Rob Reiner in the film North, playing Ma Tex. The film obtained negative reviews, receiving only two and a half stars from Allmovie.
In 1994, McEntire starred in Is There Life Out There? a television movie based on her song of the same name. The following year, she appeared in Buffalo Girls, which was based upon the life of western cowgirl Calamity Jane (played by Anjelica Huston). Playing Jane's friend Annie Oakley, Buffalo Girls was nominated for an Emmy award. In 1996, McEntire was cast by director James Cameron as Molly Brown in his film Titanic. However, when it became apparent production for the film would extend well beyond its original length, McEntire had to turn down the part, as she had already scheduled prior concert engagements. The role was recast with Kathy Bates. In 1998, she starred as Lizzie Brooks in Forever Love, which was based upon McEntire's hit single of the same name.
In early 2001, McEntire expanded into theater, starring in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Playing Annie Oakley (whom she had previously portrayed in Buffalo Girls), her performance was critically acclaimed by several newspapers, including The New York Times, which commented, "Without qualification the best performance by an actress in a musical comedy this season." McEntire personally called the musical "some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life".
In 2005, McEntire starred as Nellie Forbush in the Carnegie Hall concert production of the Broadway musical South Pacific with Alec Baldwin as Luther Billis and Brian Stokes Mitchell as Emile de Becque, directed by Walter Bobbie and with an adapted script by David Ives. The concert was broadcast as part of the Great Performances series in 2006.
In October 2001, McEntire premiered her half-hour television sitcom Reba on the WB network. The show was based around divorced mother Reba Hart, who learns how to handle life situations after her husband divorces her in order to marry his dental hygienist––with whom he had been cheating and gotten pregnant––and then their teenage daughter becomes pregnant as well. Reba garnered critical acclaim and success, becoming the network's highest-rated television show for adults ranging from the ages of 18 to 49. The show ran for six seasons and earned McEntire a nomination for a Golden Globe award. It was canceled on February 18, 2007; the series finale had 8.7 million viewers.
In September 2011, McEntire confirmed on her website that ABC had ordered a pilot for her second television series Malibu Country. McEntire played a divorced mother of two who moves to Malibu, California to restart her music career. The pilot was filmed in April 2012 and began production on its first season in August. It was announced that the pilot for Malibu Country would premiere November 2, 2012. The show was broadcast Friday nights at 8:30/7:30c on ABC. On May 11, 2012, McEntire tweeted that the show had been picked up. She also was the host in the 2011 NASCAR Award Show in Las Vegas.
Despite reports that Malibu Country was the most-watched freshman comedy in its debut season (8.7 million), the show was canceled on May 10, 2013, after eighteen episodes.
In January 2017, it was announced that McEntire would star and produce a Southern drama series for ABC titled Red Blooded. It was reported in May that ABC ultimately turned down the show, so it moved to being shopped around to other networks. In January 2018, Reba was chosen to portray KFC's first female Colonel Sanders. The commercials ran through the end of April 2018.
In 2020, McEntire launched a podcast titled Living & Learning hosted by herself and her former Reba co-star Melissa Peterman. She also appears in season 4 and 5 of Young Sheldon (2021)
She made a cameo appearance in the 2021 comedy film Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar as a water spirit named Trish after Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, who wrote, produced, and starred in the film, wrote her an "impassioned letter" asking her to join the film. Director Josh Greenbaum said in an interview, "There's some casting that just clicks. Reba is not only 100% authentic, we knew she would be game."
In May 2022, ABC announced that McEntire will be joining the season 3 (2022–23) cast of the drama Big Sky, playing local businesswoman Sunny Brick.
McEntire will be co-starring in Reba McEntire's The Hammer on Lifetime in 2023. The country star will reunite with her Reba sitcom co-star Melissa Peterman in the film inspired by the life of traveling Nevada circuit judge Kim Wanker. The film also stars McEntire's boyfriend Rex Linn as Bart Crawford, a mysterious cowboy with unknown motives, and Kay Shioma Metchie as Vicky, the tough talking bailiff who serves as Kim's right hand and trusted friend.