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Reba McEntire is a chart-topping, award-winning country music singer who has acted in films and starred on her own sitcom. She also owns several businesses.
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Born March 28, 1955, in McAlester, Oklahoma, Reba McEntire got her break singing the national anthem at the 1974 rodeo finals. McEntire has recorded with Mercury and MCA records, topped the country charts numerous times, and been named best female vocalist by the Country Music Association multiple times. She has also acted in films and starred on her own sitcom. Additionally, she runs several businesses with her husband and manager, Narvel Blackstock.
"To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."
"As a woman, you don't complain, you work twice as hard and you do your job. 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 Nell McEntire was born on March 28, 1955, in McAlester, Oklahoma, to a family of champion steer ropers. While growing up, McEntire and her three siblings spent time traveling to and from their father's world championship rodeo performances. Their mother, Jacqueline McEntire, nurtured her children's musical talent. During their many long car rides, they would pass the time by learning songs and harmonizing.
Eventually, when Reba McEntire was in ninth grade, she and her two younger siblings formed the group the Singing McEntires, and went on to perform at rodeos. The group later disbanded, but Reba continued to perform as a solo act through her college years.
In 1974, McEntire caught a break when country music star Red Steagall heard her sing at the National Finals Rodeo. The young singer's national anthem performance impressed Steagall, prompting him to help her record a demo and eventually sign with Mercury Records.
Throughout the late 1970s, the soon-to-be "Queen of Country" spent several hours in the recording studio, creating and releasing singles. While none of her early songs were major hits, chart success was just around the corner. In 1980, "You Lift Me Up (To Heaven)" cracked the Billboard country Top 10, ultimately launching an illustrious career.
Throughout the 1980s, McEntire stuck close to her roots in terms of persona, capitalizing on the rowdy rodeo girl theme in photos and on stage. As her powerful vocal stylings matured, her image changed as well, from rough-edged and rural to more polished and mainstream.
In the 1970s and '80s, Nashville was still largely considered a boys' town. When later asked how she managed to transcend gender politics so successfully, McEntire responded, "As a woman, you don't complain, you work twice as hard and you do your job. 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."
Though Whoever's in New England (1986) was McEntire's ninth studio album, it was her first to garner a Grammy Award (best female country vocal performance, for the album's first-released single, "Whoever's in New England"). By all accounts, the success of Whoever's in New England was a product of its unique sound. A blend of McEntire's more traditional twangy style with a more mainstream pop sound appealed to a wide audience, cementing the artist's place as country royalty for years to come.
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