What are the things you didn’t know about Reba McEntire? Anyone who is a fan of music knows that this veteran musician belongs at the very top of country music’s greatest along with the likes of Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and more recently Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw and more.
McEntire makes singing look easy as she has been doing it her whole life. And now, as of 2019, more than 4 decades later, Reba McEntire has released 29 albums, of which all but one have been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum by the RIAA. Of all those albums, 16 are number-one albums and the singer has also recorded 42 number-one singles in her time so far.
Here are some other interesting facts you probably did not know about this iconic country music star.
Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Reba McEntire
McEntire comes from a family of singers
For long-time fans of the musician, perhaps this does not really count as one of the things you did not know about Reba McEntire. But for others who did not know this, it may not really surprise you that much either when you consider that all that talent had to come from somewhere.
Reba’s earliest singing inspiration was her mother, Jacqueline, who also had aspirations to make something of herself as a country musician. Jacqueline was the one who gave her children their earliest music lessons, teaching them to harmonize with one another. Even though she never got to fulfill her dream, she gets to live it vicariously through her children. Reba’s older brother, Pake, was a musician before he suffered from a stroke in 2015, and her sister, Sophie, is a gospel singer.
Reba has also featured her mother on one of her gospel records “Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope.”
Reba’s talent was discovered when she was singing the national anthem
The artist had been in music her whole life already, with her family and in her high school. However, opportunity met preparation when she performed the national anthem in 1974 at the National Rodeo Finals held in Oklahoma City. She was a sophomore at South Eastern Oklahoma State University at the time.
During her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, she was spotted by the legendary country musician, Red Steagall. She apparently left a huge impact because Steagall subsequently orchestrated her move to Nashville, Tennessee where Reba signed her first music contract with Mercury Records in 1975. She would go on to release six studio albums under the label from 1977 to 1983.
Reba McEntire cheated death in 1991
The veteran musician is still waxing strong and the music world is better for it. However, one of the things you didn’t know about Reba McEntire is that it could have very nearly been a different story. In 1991, during her tour, the singer was supposed to fly out with her tour manager and seven other members of her band. However, she was not feeling very well and decided to stay back and spend the night in San Diego.
The plane her team boarded crashed not long after takeoff, killing her entire team. The singer suffered from survivor’s guilt for a long time. She did find solace and empathy in the hands of the now late Waylon Jennings, who survived the same guilt for the death of iconic rock and roll musician Buddy Holly in a 1959 plane crash.
She lost millions in the sale of her Wilson Country home
Initially supposed to sell the massive 12,800 square-foot mansion and its surrounding properties for $7.9 million, it stayed on the market for over a year without any takers. This forced a new plan to sell off the property by subdividing it into 15 lots. It was sold but this caused her to take a loss, having to sell for a total value of about $5 million.
This would naturally be a considerable loss for any property owner. However, if you’re in Reba’s shoes, have sold over 75 million records, and earned massive success outside the music industry as well, you’re probably not losing much sleep over it.
Reba was not impressed with Faith Hill’s backup singing
Known today as Faith Hill McGraw, the country artist is one half of the country music power couple with her husband Tim McGraw. She may be a Grammy Award-winning artist now, but there was a time she was hustling for a spot on Reba McEntire’s crew as a backup singer.
As Hill herself recounts it years later on an interview with Larry King, she bears no ill will towards the iconic Reba. Faith Hill believes she did not get the part because she simply was not good enough at the time. McEntire still remains one of Hill’s idols and Reba even brought her on for a duet record titled “Sleeping With the Telephone” in 2007.
Perhaps it is worth noting that had she landed the spot as a backup singer, she would most likely have been on the 1991 flight that crashed.
McEntire’s family is obsessed with the Rodeo
Yet another one of the things you didn’t know about Reba McEntire, her family is obsessed with the Rodeo Championships and they’ve won quite a few too and this goes back generations. Reba’s grandfather, Jon Wesley McEntire was the Steer Roping World Champion back in 1934, and her father, Clark, continued where Jon left off, holding the title for three years and consequently earning himself a place in the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Reba herself does more than just sing at these events, she has also participated in a number of barrel racing events herself. Perhaps it is only fitting that it was at a Rodeo that her singing talent was spotted.
She had to turn down a role in the Titanic movie
This would have definitely been another big, bright feather added to her cap. After making her foray into movies with 1990’s Tremors, Reba naturally got more calls to star in other fun roles in film and TV. One of those opportunities included the chance to play the iconic Molly Brown character in 1997’s blockbuster romantic film Titanic. The director James Cameron specifically wanted her for the role and she accepted the opportunity.
However, after it became apparent that the shooting of the movie would extend far beyond the original schedule, McEntire had to walk away from it because it had eaten into the dates she had prior scheduled for music tours. She was replaced by Kathy Bates.