Reba McEntire isn’t just the Queen of Country. The redheaded firecracker has made a name for herself in acting as well as business with the launch of her clothing, footwear and home goods line. Of course, you already knew this if you’re a Reba fan.
But do you know what other careers she considered before becoming one of country’s most iconic crooners? Can you guess which big movie role she turned down or how she was discovered? Here are some lesser-known facts about Reba McEntire.
Young Reba Made Her Singing Debut In A Hotel Lobby
Reba McEntire was born in Oklahom in 1955. At age 4, Reba McEntire realized she could get paid to sing. She earned a nickel singing “Jesus Loves Me” in a hotel lobby in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where her father was competing in a rodeo. She got the idea from her older brother, who sang “Hound Dog” for a group of cowboys gathered in the lobby, according to the Wall Street Journal.
She Got A Lot Of Practice Singing In The Family Car
As a child, Reba McEntire and her three siblings spent a lot of time in the car, traveling to and from world championship rodeo performances in which their father competed. Instead of chirping, “Are we there yet?” the McEntire children sang songs in the car. They were encouraged to do so by their mother Jacqueline McEntire, who taught them how to harmonize.
Reba Started A Band With Her Siblings
She’s shared the stage with country’s greatest stars and has a knack for making duets with the best in Nashville. But her first bandmates were her siblings. When Reba McEntire was a freshman in high school, she and two of her siblings formed a band. They were known as the Singing McEntires and, together, they performed at rodeos. The band broke up, but McEntire continued doing solo performances throughout high school.
She Caught Her Break At The Rodeo
Country music singer Red Steagall heard Reba McEntire singing at the Nationals Final Rodeo in 1974. Stegall helped her record a demo and subsequently sign a deal with Mercury Records. Years later, in 2007, the two recorded a song together: “Here We Go Again.”
Reba Will Send You An Autograph
How cool is this? According to her fan page, just send a large-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope with paid return postage to the following address: REBA’S BUSINESS, INC. PO BOX 150289 Nashville, TN 37215. In return, you’ll get an autograph from country music’s queen.
She Re-Wore Her Iconic Red Dress While Hosting An Awards Show
Eagle-eyed fans watching the 2018 American Country Music Awards might have noticed that Reba McEntire re-wore her iconic, floor-length red dress with mesh inserts and a sparkly jeweled bodice. In one of her many costume changes during the show, she slipped into the dress that she first wore in 1993 when she was hosting the CMA Awards.
“I really liked the red dress from the ’90s,” McEntire told “People.” “It was like seeing an old friend again.”
Kelly Clarkson Is Her (Step) Daughter-In-Law
Guitarist and manager Narvel Blackstock married Reba McEntire in 1989, and McEntire became stepmom to his three children: Shawna, Cassidy and Brandon Blackstock (they also had a son, Shelby). In 2013, American Idol star and Grammy Award-winner Kelly Clarkson married Brandon Blackstock, making her Reba’s daughter-in-law. Even though McEntire divorced Narvel in 2015, she’s still close with Clarkson. After all, as Country Living points out, McEntire and Clarkson were close before they were even technically family, having shared the stage and sung together.
Her Work On The Cattle Range Helped Her Transcend Gender Barriers In Nashville
Nashville was mostly dominated by men in the 1970s and ’80s. McEntire explains that, as a woman, she worked twice as hard and didn’t complain. “You try to outsmart them, you try to outwork them and get there first. You help out, you volunteer, you’re at the front of the line. That’s what I learned from working on the cattle range, and it helped me in the music business.”
Reba is pictured below with Dwight Yoakam, Lisa Hartman and Bruce Boxleitner.
Her Christmas Wish Lists Are Practical
She may have topped the charts with her song “Fancy,” but Reba revealed in an interview that she’s easy to shop for and loves practical gifts. In fact, she told Taste of Country that she asked for windshield washers (yes, like the ones you find at gas stations) for Christmas one year. Santa brought her two.
Her Mom Helped Her Co-Write A Song Recently
The McEntire matriarch suggested a lyric change-up on McEntire’s 2017 album “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope.” McEntire’s mom helped craft the lyrics for “I Got the Lord on My Side.”
“Momma said, ‘Can I make a suggestion?’ I said, ‘Well sure, what?’ She said, ‘Instead of saying on the second verse, ‘I’m so happy,’ why don’t you say, ‘Oh you’re happy, you’ve got the lord on your side?’ And I said ‘Dangit, why didn’t I think of that?’” McEntire told NPR.
Security Almost Didn’t Let Her In For Her First Performance At The Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry, an iconic music venue in Nashville, first welcomed McEntire in 1977 for a debut performance. Somehow, though, her name didn’t end up on the list of performers and the security guard wouldn’t let her in. She called her booking agent, who arranged to get her in the doors.
Her First Performance At The Grand Ole Opry Was Cut Short
Reba McEntire’s parents and older sister drove 1,400 miles from Oklahoma to watch her make her debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry. McEntire’s performance was cut to three minutes, though. The reason it was cut short? Dolly Parton made a surprise appearance that night.
Actually, Reba McEntire Had Pretty Bad Luck At The Grand Ole Opry
The first time the country veteran visited the Grand Ole Opry, she was 7 years old and visiting the Nashville institution as an audience member. She got sick during the show and ran outside, where she threw up on the front steps. Despite a rocky start, the Grand Ole Opry is special to her now.
“The Grand Ole Opry is a home. It’s a family. It’s like a family reunion, when you come back and get to see everybody,” McEntire has said. She was inducted into the Opry in 1986. Here she is performing at the Grand Ole Opry during the CMA Country Christmas in 2017.
She’s On An Impressive Streak
During the course of her career, Reba has achieved 35 No. 1 singles and sold more than 56 million albums. Country music experts at The Boot point out she’s also the only country female sole act to have a No. 1 hit in four straight decades, beginning in the 1980s with “Can’t Even Get the Blues.”
She Comes From A Family Of Champion Steer Ropers
McEntire’s grandfather, John Wesley McEntire, won the Steer Roping World Champion title in 1934. Then, her father Clarke McEntire claimed the steer roping title in 1957, 1958 and 1961. Talent runs in the family!
She Turned Down A Role In ‘Titanic’
Movie director James Cameron wanted Reba McEntire to play the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” in his 1995 film “The Titanic.” She turned down the role because of scheduling conflicts. Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates snagged the role instead.
She Made Her Film Debut In A Sci-Fi Movie
Starring opposite Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire broke into film with her role as a survivalist in “Tremors.” The cult classic was about underground creatures who were disrupting a small town. McEntire postponed her honeymoon with Narvel Blackstock so she could wrap up work on “Tremors,” which hit theaters in 1990. While it wasn’t a big blockbuster, the campy sci-fi movie garnered a cult following and spawned several sequels.
You Heard Her Voice In ‘Charlotte’s Web’
When the childhood classic “Charlotte’s Web” was released as an animated film in 2006, Reba McEntire and Kathy Bates both had voice roles. Reba thought it was a cute movie when it originally came out in 1973 and was happy to be a part of the 2006 version.
“I played Betsy the cow and Kathy Bates was Bitsy the cow. I don’t know if we were sisters or just buddy cows,” she said.
You Could Get Married At Reba’s Former Estate
In 2017, a businessman purchased Reba McEntire’s 83-acre Starstruck Farms estate near Nashville for just over $3 million. Now called Cherokee Dock, the luxury estate can be rented out for weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats, galas, songwriter festivals and more. McEntire’s former waterfront home includes a Southern colonial home, luxury stable, eight-car garage, guest home, pool and pool house.
She Made A Cameo As Col. Sanders
Who wore that all-white tuxedo and black tie better: Col. Sanders or Reba McEntire? In early 2018, McEntire played the role of Col. Sanders, promoting KFC’s smoky mountain barbecue chicken.
“I’ve held a lot of roles in my life — sort of like the Colonel himself — but this is certainly the most unique one yet,” she said in a news release.
Reba Could Have Been Your Elementary School Teacher
While going to school at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, McEntire studied teaching, majoring in elementary education. Music was her minor. She initially wanted to be a school teacher, following in the footsteps of her mother. Can you imagine Reba as an elementary school teacher?
By Kindergarten, Reba Was Already Learning How To Drive
At age 5, Reba was already taking driving lessons on her family’s ranch in Oklahoma. She would help drive her father’s truck while he kicked hay off the back to feed the cattle. When she turned 16, she won a Ford truck for an essay she wrote. She could drive the truck for six months. In that timeframe, she managed to put 18,000 miles on it!
Tragedy Fueled Her Album ‘For My Broken Heart’
Long-time Reba fans likely remember the charter plane crash in March 1991 that killed eight of McEntire’s bandmates. Grief-stricken, Reba turned to music in her mourning and produced the album “For My Broken Heart.” It was dedicated to her deceased bandmates.
Photography Is One Of Her Hobbies
In an interview, Reba said she likes to “piddle” (classic Reba-ism!) with the camera. Trap and skeet shooting also make her list of hobbies. A couple of years ago, she told Country Living she was picking up fishing as a hobby, too.
She Was Part Of Her College Singing Group
While at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Reba joined a campus singing group called the Chorvettes. Fun fact: The group is still around, performing everything from Broadway tunes to country classics and gospel. The singing and dancing group is co-ed.
She Turned Down Faith Hill As A Backup Singer
When Faith Hill was starting out in her career nearly 30 years ago, Reba McEntire turned her down for a role as a backup singer. No hard feelings though! The two recorded a duet together in 2007 called “Sleeping with the Telephone.”
Her Sitcom Almost Went By A Different Name
The singer’s sitcom, “Reba,” which ran from 2001 to 2007, was almost named “Sally.” Reba convinced the producers that her fans would be more enticed if her real name was used. Her character in the show is Reba Nell Hart. (Nell is her actual middle name.)
Her Son Is A Race Car Driver
Shelby Blackstock is a professional race car driver. She admitted on the “Rachel Ray Show” that she wanted to “pass out” when she first started watching him race.
“When I first went to the Daytona Speedway and he was racing at Daytona, you know, they drop that green flag and here they come, racing around,” she said in an interview. “And I was sitting there filming him, and all could see was his car, and then underneath the helmet was this little bitty baby face! It just broke my heart! I was like, ‘Ahh!'”
She’s Worked With Nonprofits
In addition to being a country superstar and actress, most fans know she’s ventured into business with her own line of clothing, footwear and home goods. But did you know about her philanthropic endeavors? Reba has served as a spokesperson for the Middle Tennessee United Way, the national 4-H clubs of America and Bob Hope’s Hope for a Drug-Free America.
Young Reba Was A Barrel Racer
As a youngster, Reba was a barrel racer and competed at rodeos. (For the uninitiated, barrel racing is a rodeo event that involves a rider on a horse attempting to complete a cloverleaf pattern around barrels in the fastest time.) Her father, however, a champion steer roper, told her she should pursue singing because she wasn’t talented enough to compete in the rodeo. Here’s footage of her as a rodeo host.