Reba McEntire sat down with CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert Wednesday night in advance of the April 5th release of her new album, Stronger Than the Truth, and her return as host of the upcoming ACM Awards two days later.
While McEntire touched on everything from her memories of her first paid singing gig — a performance of “Jesus Loves Me,” at six years old, for which she earned a nickel, to her role as the first woman to portray KFC founder Colonel Sanders in TV ads — it was the performer’s take on the absence of female artists in the ACM nominees for Entertainer of the Year that was most notable.
“I was very disappointed by that,” she said, as Colbert read the names of the nominees, including Jason Aldean and Keith Urban. “Shoot, yeah. They’re great, but I wanted to hear some women in there. That would have been really nice.” As Colbert added, “Where’s your Kacey Musgraves, where’s your Miranda Lambert,” McEntire said, “Exactly… Carrie Underwood.”
McEntire also recalled an incident that took place on a previous ACM Awards show she hosted during which Keith Urban’s guitar went missing. Urged by then-show producer Dick Clark to go onstage and stall the proceedings while the instrument could be located, McEntire recalls the panic that set in and Clark’s follow-up response — which was to go out onstage himself and explain the situation to the live audience and the millions watching at home. “I thought, ‘Well, I can tell a joke.’ I did get booed offstage one time in 1978 for tellin’ a horrible joke, so I thought, probably not a good idea to do that.’”
The singer then shared the “horrible” joke with Colbert and his audience, receiving a somewhat better response than she did 41 years ago. She also recalled that, “After that, Mama said, ‘Reba, you’re real cute. Sing, don’t talk.’”
McEntire will no doubt be singing and talking during the 54th ACM Awards, which air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7th, on CBS.