Reba’s Rebirth: McEntire on Returning to the Charts With No Inhibitions
A few years ago, Reba McEntire, one of the most successful artists in country music history, feared her days of making new music were over. After selling more than 56 million albums and notching 35 chart-topping country singles, she found herself facing a radio landscape catering to younger artists releasing tunes very different from her classic storytelling hits, such as “Is There Life Out There” and “Fancy.” She deliberately quit making albums after 2010’s All The Women I Am, choosing instead to focus on her other ventures, including a short-lived sitcom and a new cosmetics line, Reba Beauty.
Then, the Broadway and TV star got thrown a lifeline in the form of Nash Icon Records, a new label started by Big Machine Label Group and the Cumulus radio chain geared toward vital veteran artists. Concurrently, Cumulus rolled out the Nash Icon radio format, which numbers more than 25 stations nationwide. McEntire was the first artist signed to Nash Icon, wooed by her longtime friend and Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta (subsequent signings include Martina McBride and Ronnie Dunn).
Her current single, the sassy “Going Out Like That,” from the April 14th release, Love Somebody, debuted at a career-high Number 28 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and at Number One on the iTunes Country Songs chart. The album, which features tunes penned by such top Nashville songwriters as Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley, Brandy Clark and Sam Hunt, is McEntire’s 27th studio effort.
In a wide-ranging interview at a Los Angeles hotel, McEntire couldn’t hide her delight about being back on the charts, nor her disappointment in the failure of her latest TV show, Malibu Country. She also opened up to Rolling Stone Country about her advice for stepdaughter-in-law and new mom Kelly Clarkson, and the very fortuitous dinner that led to Brooks & Dunn’s reconciliation and their Las Vegas residency together this summer.
On April 19th, McEntire will receive a Milestone Award at the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards for most wins in its Female Vocalist of the year category, but it’s clear that she is far from done.
Love Somebody‘s debut single, “Going Out Like That,” earned incredible first-week sales. What did that say to you in terms of people having missed you?
It means that my fans are still wanting to hear me sing new material.
Did you have a doubt?
I’m a regular person — of course I’ve got doubts and insecurities. I had no idea. I certainly wasn’t like, “Well, I bet they can’t wait until my stuff comes out. Good Lord, I bet they’ve been losing sleep.”
Did you think your record-making days were over?
I really did. Radio [is] so competitive, and they are looking at the younger generations for music, so I’m thrilled to death radio is playing “Going Out Like That.” Ben Hayslip, Jason Sellers and Rhett Akins wrote it. Jason was singing the demo and when I heard it the first time, I said, “Killer song, but boy, it’s going to be even more powerful sung by a woman.” I thought it was just a kick-ass power anthem for women.
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