Reba Nell McEntire (born March 28, 1955) is an American country music artist and actress. She began her career in the music industry singing with her siblings on local radio shows and at rodeos. As a solo act, she was invited to perform at a rodeo in Oklahoma City, which caught the attention of country artist Red Steagall. He brought her to Nashville, Tennessee, where she eventually signed a contract with Mercury Records in 1975. She released her first solo album in 1977 and released five additional studio albums under the label until 1983.
Signing with MCA Nashville Records, McEntire took creative control over her second MCA album, My Kind of Country (1984), which had a more traditional country sound and produced two number one singles: "How Blue" and "Somebody Should Leave". The album brought her breakthrough success, bringing her a series of successful albums and number one singles in the 1980s and 1990s. McEntire has since released 26 studio albums, acquired 35 #1 singles, and 28 albums have been certified Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In the early 1990s, McEntire branched into film starting with 1990's Tremors. She has since starred in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun and starred in her television sitcom, Reba (2001–2007) for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series–Musical or Comedy. She has sometimes been referred to as "The Queen of Country",having sold 41 million records in the United States and more than 56 million worldwide. In the United States, she ranks as both the seventh best-selling female artist in all genres and the seventh best-selling country artist, and the second best-selling female country artist of all time, behind Shania Twain.
McEntire's sound has been influenced by the country music of Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, and Patsy Cline. In college, McEntire would sneak into local dances at the Oklahoma-Texas border so she could dance to Wills's music, commenting that, "it didn't get any better than dancing to Bob Wills music". She also explained Merle Haggard's influence on her career, stating "I had every album he ever put out", and would sing "every song he did", along with her brother, Pake and sister, Susie. In addition, her first major hit, "Sweet Dreams" was a remake of Patsy Cline's version of the song, according to McEntire herself. McEntire's music has been described to not only be built upon traditional country music, but also expand into the genres of Country pop, Mainstream pop, Soul, Adult Contemporary, and R&B. At times, her music has often been criticized for moving away from traditional country music. Many music critics have often called her music to be "melodramatic", "formulaic", and "bombastic", particularly after her 1988 album, Reba. Studio releases such as Sweet Sixteen, Rumor Has It, It's Your Call, and Starting Over have often been described by these terms.
McEntire possesses a contralto vocal range and performs "vocal gymnastics" with her voice, a musical technique in which a singer twirls a note around, using their vibrato. McEntire has often credited Dolly Parton for influencing this trait, stating that she would always listen to Parton's records and find her style of vocal gymnastics, "so pretty".
McEntire has often been regarded as one of country music's most influential female vocalists and most beloved entertainers. She has also been highly-credited for remaining one of country's most popular female artists for over two decades, maintaining her success by continually incorporating contemporary musical sounds without changing her traditional vocal style. For many new artists, she has been credited as the inspiration to their careers in country music, including, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, and LeAnn Rimes. She has also been credited as an inspiration to other performers such as Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Sara Evans, Terri Clark, Lee Ann Womack, Kelly Clarkson. The Net Music Countdown second handedly reported, "That influence has manifested itself in many ways. As a role model, she's shown others how to handle fame with grace and good humor while never backing down from her values or goals. Just as importantly, she's shown others to refuse to accept limitations on what she can do or how much she can achieve." McEntire also explained to the online 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.
McEntire's two siblings (both from the Singing McEntires) have also maintained careers in the music industry. Her brother, Pake McEntire was a successful country artist in the late 1980s and early 90s. Her sister, Susie Luchsinger, is a successful Christian music singer. She also has an older sister, Alice.
In 1976, McEntire married national steer wrestling champion and rancher, Charlie Battles. Together, the couple owned a ranch in Oklahoma and managed her career. In 1987, McEntire divorced Battles and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. She later commented to Bob Allen of Country Music about their separation, saying, "I had to pack everything in one day and leave. I was totally starting over." McEntire later claimed that she wanted to focus more on her music career, while Battles insisted that she remain at home, helping to take care of the ranch. McEntire stated, "I wasn't the little girl anymore, taking orders, and doing what he said."
In 1989, McEntire married her manager and former steel guitar player, Narvel Blackstock. The couple wed in a private ceremony on a boat in Lake Tahoe. Together, the pair took over all aspects of McEntire's career, forming Starstruck Entertainment, which was originally designed to help manage her career. From her second marriage, McEntire inherited three stepchildren and gave birth to a son, Shelby Steven McEntire Blackstock on February 23, 1990. The couple has since celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary, and McEntire states that the secrets to her marriage are "Respect, faith, love, trust, and lots of patience"