Reba McEntire received news that would change her life forever back in 2015. The situation was already tough for her, but it got even more challenging when she heard all the details. As a country superstar, McEntire experienced decades of her life in the spotlight, but nothing could prepare her for the heartbreak that was to come.
After 26 years of marriage, her husband, Narvel Blackstock, filed for divorce. During an interview with CMT, the singer claimed that this divorce was not her idea in “any shape, form, or fashion.” Throughout their relationship, Reba always maintained that Blackstock isn’t just her husband, but her best friend as well. She was in for the shock of a lifetime when he told her he wanted to split. Nothing is worse than being completely blindsided.
This is Reba’s McEntire’s life and career, proving that the talented country star can seriously do it all… with or without a husband.
Building a Family
Reba and Narvel first met back in 1980, when he was the steel guitar player in her band. After seven years, he became her manager and friend; he was even there to support her while she was getting divorced from her husband at the time. During this time, the pair got even closer, and their friendship developed into a romance.
The love birds got married in 1989, on a boat at Lake Tahoe. The duo took the music industry by storm and created their very own management company called Starstruck. After they tied the knot, Reba took on the role of stepmother to Narvel’s three kids. The next year, she welcomed their son Shelby into the world. Things appeared to be going great, but the singer’s life wasn’t always so easy.
On March 28th, 1955, Reba was born in McAlester, a small Oklahoma town. Before she was a country music sensation, the talented southern girl and her siblings were raised on the family’s ranch in a community called Chockie. Growing up, Reba, her brother Pike, and sisters Alice and Susie helped their parents, so she learned to cook, clean, and take care of the cattle.
As a young child, Reba was ingrained with values and learned how important it is to work hard to help contribute. These essential lessons subsequently taught her to work hard to succeed. Clearly, her upbringing helped pave the way for her successful future.
Homegrown on the Ranch
Reba’s mother, Jacqueline, also had some big dreams; she had aspirations of becoming a country singer back in the day. Jacqueline ultimately became a school teacher because their community needed one. Her dad and grandfather were rodeo steer ropers. Steer roping, also known as steer tripping or steer jerking, is a rodeo event with a steer and mounted cowboy. Reba’s father, Clark, is a three-time world champion in it.
This might be a little hard to believe, but Reba learned to drive at an extremely young age. She was just five years old and learned to drive to help her family with the ranch. During the winter, little Reba drove her daddy’s truck and loaded bundles of hay for the cattle.
It was Reba’s mom that gave her children their passion for country music and taught them to sing when they were really young. Reba’s first solo performance was when she sang Away in a Manger, in her first-grade Christmas play. The family regularly traveled for Clark’s rodeo competitions, and the whole family loved to sing in the car.
The kids were eventually known as The Singing McEntires. During her dad’s rodeo competitions, Reba would sing the national anthem and perform for a local radio station. That’s impressive for a little girl. Then, she was asked to sing at the graduation ceremony for the local high school when she was only in third grade.
Here Is a Car, Now Give It Back
Like many other famous singers, Reba looked up to female music artists growing up. She drew inspiration from singers like Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn. Little did she know that she would surpass them one day and become one of the bestselling female country singers in the world.
At the tender age of 16 years old, Reba won an essay contest and earned the title of Miss Ford Country. The prize she won was a chance to drive a new Ford for half a year. The singer claimed that she hit 18,000 miles on the car before it was time for her to give it back.
The Family That Sings Together
The Singing McEntires were doing pretty well for themselves. The siblings performed at dance halls, bars, local rodeos, and honky-tonks. The group even recorded a song called The Ballad of John McEntire, which was dedicated to their grandpa. The group made a thousand copies of the record.
During their time as a group, The Singing McEntires released two major hits: If I Could Only Be with You and God Never Cried. Radio stations around Oklahoma played the songs, but the group also performed the songs live. Being a part of The Singing McEntires really gave Reba a taste of the music world and put her on the path to success.
While she was with The Singing McEntires, Reba got baptized. Her family was on the road one night headed to a gig, and she told her mom that she was planning on inviting everyone in the dance hall to come to church on Sunday morning. Her mother’s response turned out to be a lesson that stayed with Reba for the rest of her life.
She asked her daughter why she thought that those same people did not go to church, to begin with. Reba later explained how she learned a valuable lesson: “That was my first lesson on passing judgment. You don’t know what other people do. You don’t know their heart.”
After her high school graduation, Reba enrolled at Southern Oklahoma State University in Durant. During her time there, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and took up education, but she minored in music. When she wasn’t focused on her school work, the young student’s life revolved completely around music. Her favorite thing to do was perform.
Whenever she got the opportunity, Reba continued to sing locally. At one point, she was even in the same class as Garth Brooks, another future country star. Reba originally wanted to be a school teacher, just like her mom. However, a series of events put her on a different path to reach her true destiny.
Right Place, Right Time
In 1974, Reba’s life was forever changed. She landed a job as the national anthem singer for the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City. This is how the talented young woman was discovered by country music superstar Red Steagall. This was truly a huge opportunity for the aspiring singer.
He happened to be performing at the same venue on that same day. He was blown away after he heard Reba sing. He took the singer under his wing and helped her start her country music career in Nashville. She made a demo tape and, one year later, Mercury Records gave her a record deal. This is a classic case of being in the right place at the right time.
When she met her first husband, Reba was at a completely different rodeo. She walked down the aisle with rodeo star Charlie Battles in 1976, right around the time her career took off. She released her debut single, I Don’t Want to be a One Night Stand, in January 1976. However, the song only made it to number 88 on the country music charts.
The next few songs she came out with did not become massive hits either, but nothing was going to stop this determined woman. She kept working, and in 1979, she gained success with her cover of Sweet Dreams by Patsy Cline. The song made it to number 19, making it her first song to be in the Top 20. It definitely wasn’t her last.
But I’m Reba McEntire!
Reba was asked to sing at the Grand Ole Opry in 1977, and she couldn’t have been more excited. It was her first performance at the legendary home of country music. She was honored and, of course, accepted the invitation. She made her way to Nashville. However, the security guard at the door didn’t let her in because she wasn’t on the list.
They exchanged a few words, and he finally recognized her name. Phew! That was a close one. When she finally got in, the producers told her that they had to cut her performance in half to make room for Dolly Parton. Clearly, the security guard and producers had no clue they were dealing with a future music legend.
After her fifth album, Unlimited, was released in 1982, Reba McEntire finally had a number one hit on the Billboard charts in 1983. However, the singer did not appreciate the lack of creative control she had over her career and how she was forced to make country-pop ballads. The situation ultimately prompted her to leave Mercury.
But that wasn’t the end of her career. She signed a deal with MCA Nashville Records one year later and released Just a Little Love, her seventh studio album. She still wasn’t 100 percent happy with the direction of her career, but, luckily, she eventually got the creative control that she desired with a new album filled with her previously released singles. My Kind of Country had two number one hits, and even the critics liked it.
At last, Reba was happy with the direction her career was going in. During the late ‘80s, the singer was a music video pioneer. In addition to singing all of her songs, she focused a lot of her energy into turning her music videos into theatrical productions featuring characters and a storyline. Critics even referred to them as “mini-movies.”
This wasn’t a simple thing to pull off; Reba put so much effort into it. Subsequently, her work on the videos sparked her interest in the acting world. She broadened her horizons and set a goal to act in a movie. At the time, she probably had no idea she was going to do more than that.
Reba McEntire is certainly one to accomplish her goals. In 1990, she checked acting off her bucket list when she made her on-screen debut in the flick, Tremors. It’s a horror-comedy about huge underground worm-monsters. The star literally postponed her honeymoon with Narvel so she could finish shooting it.
Reba stated that she truly enjoyed making the movie, but it looks like her co-star didn’t have the same feelings. Kevin Bacon went so far as to call it a “low point” in his acting career. Harsh much? Thankfully, none of that mattered to Reba. She was working toward making all her dreams come true. Unfortunately, things weren’t perfect behind the scenes in her personal life.
Trouble in Paradise
Reba lived with her then-husband Charlie Battles on his Oklahoma ranch. However, her blossoming career didn’t sit well with him, and this added pressure to the struggling marriage. He wanted his wife to stay home with him, but she was busy on the road following her dreams.
As a result, the couple found themselves in endless arguments, and they were unhappy. In 1987, they finally called it quits. Following the split, Reba had this to say: “I had to pack everything in one day and leave. I was totally starting over. I wasn’t the little girl anymore, taking orders, and doing what he said.” Good for her, standing up for herself!
Reba was dominating the country music scene when tragedy struck in 1991. Her band was taking a charter plane that horrifically crashed into a mountain near San Diego, and everyone on the plane devastatingly lost their lives, including eight of her band members. Apparently, the cause of the crash was poor visibility.
At the time of the crash, Reba was sleeping soundly at a hotel nearby. I can only imagine how heartbroken she was when she heard the devastating news. According to the singer, it was like losing family. She said that a lot of the crew had been with the band for years. As you could have guessed, this was a really rough time for the star.
For The People She Lost
Reba’s 16th album was titled For My Broken Heart. She dedicated it to the band members she tragically lost in the accident. Like many artists, she took all her sadness and anger and poured it into her music. You could really see her feeling and emotions on the album. Most of the songs were about sorrow and lost love.
The album stemmed from terrible circumstances, but people definitely felt something from the beautiful songs. It went on to sell more than four million copies making her top-selling studio album. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts, and two of the songs made it to No 1.
The Legendary Red Dress
Together with Linda Davis, Reba McEntire took home a Grammy and a Country Music Award for their work on Does He Love You. But during the CMA Awards that year, she gained even more attention, but this time, it was for her sexy red dress. As she went on stage, you could hear the people in the audience gasp.
During an interview, the singer explained how her dad had no problem giving his opinion about the outfit. He asked her if there was a mistake, and if she was wearing it backward. The dress became legendary and is now displayed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
A Country Music Pioneer
It’s pretty rare to discuss the topic of AIDS in music, particularly in country music. Many people in the industry considered it to be taboo, but Reba was not like some of her friends. She released an album in 1994 entitled Read My Mind, which included her controversial song called She Thinks His Name Was John. It told the story of a woman who contracted AIDS after a drunken one-night stand.
The song really proved that Reba was more than just a singer; she was a groundbreaking musician who wasn’t afraid to throw some social commentary into her art. Reba didn’t shy away from other controversial subjects, such as domestic abuse, neglect of the elderly, illegal immigration, and mercy killing.
Turning It Around
After she released her 19th album called Starting Over, Reba’s career went slightly downhill. To be fair, it only included the original recordings of her favorite songs, and she didn’t really create any new material for it. The reason for the album was to celebrate Reba’s 20th year in the music industry.
Critics weren’t kind and reacted poorly to the album, and only one song charted in the Top 10. Even though the reactions weren’t positive, the album still went platinum. More important, the motivated singer managed to turn all the negativity around in the matter of just one year. That only further proves how talented this woman is.
Almost Molly Brown
Even though the critics didn’t respond well to her new album, James Cameron invited her to appear in his romantic movie Titanic. Unfortunately, she had to back out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. Reba explained that “they kept movin’ my schedule.” She couldn’t cancel booked shows with sold tickets no matter how much she wanted to be in the movie.
If you were wondering, she was set to play Molly Brown, one of the socialites in the film. The iconic role was ultimately given to Kathy Bates, who portrayed the character wonderfully. Can you believe it was almost Reba? The 1997 movie brought in more than $2 million worldwide and is the second highest-grossing movie in history!
Topping the Charts Again
Reba’s 20th studio album entitled What If It’s You came out in 1997. Many people considered the hit album Reba’s epic comeback from her minor decline a year earlier. I see it more as a bump in the road. Anyway, The Fear of Being Alone is the lead single on the album and it reached the top of the charts.
How Was I to Know made it to the No. 1 spot and the song Ride Around with You followed at No. 2. She also recorded What If for charity, and it landed at number 23. The generous singer donated all the profits from the song to the Salvation Army. At this time, she was entering a new chapter in her career.
Taking on the Broadway Stage
In 2001, Reba came out with an album called Greatest Hits Vol. 3: I’m a Survivor, which included thee more hit songs. That’s when she officially became the most certified female country music artist ever. By this point, she took a short break from the industry to star in the Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun.
Her performance was “without qualification the best performance by an actress in a musical comedy this season,” according to The New York Times. Well, that’s quite the compliment. The show was about a fictional version of Annie Oakley, a Wild West sharpshooter. Reba’s acting career did not end there.
Her Own Show
After her stint on Broadway, Reba McEntire really discovered her love for acting. She quickly started working on some TV projects as well. In 2002, she starred in Reba, a self-titled show about a feisty single mother. It aired on WB and quickly became the highest-rated show on the network. Reba is one of those gifted people who can truly do it all.
The sitcom lasted for six seasons and even landed Reba, a Golden Globe award. It aired from 2001 to 2006 before it got switched to CW for the last season. Unfortunately, it got a cancellation order despite being the top sitcom they had. Their loss!
Small Screen Appearance
At the early stages of the show, producers wanted to call the main character Sally. Reba felt like it would be more appropriate to go with her name instead, and she managed to convince them. She hoped that using her real name would widen her audience because her loyal fans would tune in just for her.
If you ever watched the show, Melissa Peterman played Barbara, the villain who was sleeping with Reba’s husband. Although they played each other’s nemesis on screen, it couldn’t be farther from reality. The truth is that Reba and Melissa are best friends when the cameras stop rolling. I guess it’s a testament to their acting skills.
Even though she was busy acting, Reba didn’t forget about her first love – music. She made an incredible comeback in 2003 with her 76th single! Meanwhile, her 23rd album AKA Room to Breathe snuck its way to the top of the charts as soon as it was released. In 2007, the singer was praised for becoming the female with the most nominations in the history of the Country Music Awards.
That’s right! The singer even surpassed Dolly Parton, who is one of her idols. The next year, she went on tour with fellow country musician and first American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson. Reba was back on the scene, and everyone loved it. However, that didn’t mean she didn’t venture out into other industries.
Back to the Small Screen
In 2011, Reba decided she wanted to dabble in acting some more. She was featured on ABC’s Malibu Country, playing a divorced mother of two named Reba Gallagher. Just like her previous television stint, her character’s name is Reba, and her husband cheated on her.
On the show, she splits up with the cheating man and gets the Malibu house in the divorce settlement. Then, she attempts to start a country music career. The sitcom earned mixed reviews, but, in 2012, it became the top-rated new comedy on the network. However, they chose to cancel the show after only 18 episodes.
Reba earned her 56th Top 10 hit back in 2008 after she recorded the song Cowgirls Don’t Cry with Brooks & Dunn. Thanks to the single, Reba broke the record for the most Top 10 hits of any female country music artist. That is one impressive feat—especially considering the record holder before her was the one and only Dolly Parton.
However, later that year, the singer announced that she would be leaving her record label after working with them for 25 years, selling 67 million records and 2 Grammy Awards. But don’t worry. That would certainly not be the last we see of her. After she departed from her record label, Reba signed a deal with Valory Music Group.
It’s not rare for crazy rumors to circulate about celebrities, and Reba McEntire is no exception. In 2012, reports claimed that the singer had passed away. According to the stories, she fell off a cliff and tragically died while she was filming in Austria. The news spread like wildfire, and even her sister heard the terrible news.
When her concerned sister called Reba, it was clear that Reba was alive and well. She even addressed the rumors on Twitter, explaining that she was perfectly fine. “There are so many of those hoaxes that are just going around, and I think it’s cruel. That’s not funny.” She’s right. There is no humor in lying about someone else’s death.
Her Biggest Fan
When Reba’s father, Clark McEntire, suffered a stroke and fell into a coma, the singer was about to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He passed away on October 23rd, 2014, leaving his daughter heartbroken. Thankfully, Dolly Parton was there for the grieving artist and inducted Reba’s name in her stead.
Reba’s video for Just Like Them Horses was created as a homage to her deceased father. She even filmed it in Chockie, Oklahoma, on the family property. Remembering and honoring him, Reba said, “He ran all the way to heaven. Just like them, horses.” According to her, he was her number one fan.
As we know by now, it took a lot of hard work and determination for Reba McEntire to get where she is now. If you ask me, she deserves to enjoy her life and the success she has earned. Well, she finally rewarded herself when she purchased a 12,000 square foot Beverly Hills mansion with seven beds, nine baths, a spa, a swimming pool, and a tennis court.
In 2015, the star decided it was time to put it on the market. When Reba bought the property in 2009, it cost her $9 million, and, when she sold it, an undisclosed buyer paid an astonishing $22.25 million. Well, that is quite the deal and a smart investment. She more than doubled what she spent.
Nearly Lost Faith
If you are a country fan, you definitely heard of the popular singer Faith Hill. Before Hill made it big in the country world, she actually auditioned to sing backup for Reba McEntire during tours. Shockingly, she was rejected from the gig. Instead, the part went to Paula Kay Evans, who died in the devastating 1991 plane crash.
During an interview with Larry King, Faith explained that the reason she didn’t get the part was simply that she wasn’t good enough at the time. I don’t know; it’s chilling to think that if she had been qualified enough, she might not be here today. Sadly, anyone passed in such a horrific way, but we’re glad that Hill is still around.
Famous Fam Jam
Kelly Clarkson was being managed by a man named Narvel Blackstock, who introduced her to his son, Brandon Blackstock. During the 2012 Super Bowl, Clarkson was tasked to sing the national anthem where the young Blackstock proposed to her. The next year, the pair tied the knot, which made Kelly Reba’s daughter-in-law.
Considering the singers were pals and toured together in the past, they were happy about the family connection they shared. Reba even revealed that she was “thrilled to death, thrilled to death to have my buddy as my daughter-in-law, I mean, who could ask for more?” It’s definitely fun to suddenly be related to your friend. Since then, Kelly has welcomed two kids into the world.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
When Reba was asked about her divorce, she expressed that if it were up to her, she would have chosen to stay married to Narvel Blackstock. Unfortunately, the breakup left the singer with some major life adjustments that she needed to deal with after being blindsided by the divorce. She went on to say that she just wants everyone to be happy.
That meant that Reba needed to end her 26-year marriage and let Narvel go. “I just thought it was the best thing to take my marbles and go play somewhere else, is what daddy used to always say.” Sadly, she didn’t know how heartbreaking the idea of “moving on” from her former husband would be.
Not Best Friends Anymore
Several months fresh out of the divorce, it was alleged that Narvel had already starting to test the waters. Not only was he seeing other women, but he was spotted with Laura Putty Stroud. The luxury real estate agent was close to the couple, and Reba considered her one of her best friends. Some best friend; I can only imagine how hurtful that is.
Narvel even attended a Katy Perry concert with Stroud, and a friend close to the couple described their relationship as “very serious.” It’s unclear when exactly the two began dating, but it’s been speculated that Narvel was cheating on Reba. I can’t confirm the cheating rumors, but all I can say is he bounced back real fast.
It’s no surprise that Kelly Clarkson ended up in an uncomfortable situation when she was caught in the middle of the messy divorce. After all, she was great friends with Reba, but Narvel was her husband’s father. It has been reported that Kelly attempted to keep them together. It may have even worked for a little while, but, as we know, they ultimately split up anyway.
Nonetheless, Reba and Narvel were allegedly living separately for years before making their divorce official. Apparently, the two are still supportive of one another despite all the pain and heartbreak. I don’t know how she does it. I certainly wouldn’t be able to.
After the divorce was official, Narvel remained her manager for another year. After all, the dynamic duo has had a professional relationship since 1988. After decades of working together, Reba decided it was time for her to move on in the professional sense in 2016. Then, she launched her own company, Reba’s Business Inc. managing aspiring artists.
The singer also started a merchandise brand that offers jewelry, clothing, home décor, and beauty products. Some of these items are available at your local Cracker Barrel gift shop! The country star has a current net worth of about $95 million, and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In 2017, she revealed she was ready to start dating again.
If you follow the beautiful singer on Instagram, you know she loves snapping pictures. Like everyone else today, pictures and memories are important to the star. She even told a country music website called The Boot that she really likes her photos, and no matter where she goes, she always finds someone to take pictures of her.
“I love to piddle with my pictures. I am a big picture fanatic. I love it when people send me pictures that I don’t have. I can put them and put them on my computer, and I am archiving right now.” I think she can teach me a thing or two about photography. I barely know how to take a selfie.
Shaking Hands with The Pres
One obvious quality about Reba McEntire is that she is a lovable woman in every sense of the world. She is very personable and can seemingly get along with every person she meets. We know she has some famous friends, but she even rubbed shoulders with famous faces outside of the music industry, like George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush.
She admitted, “We email each other on our Treos all the time- nothing political, just passing jokes back and forth. He’s really into emails, and so are his buddies. Senior Bush invited my husband [Narvel Blackstock] and me on a private cruise to the Greek islands years ago. We became very good friends, and that’s when the email stuff started.”
That Shooting Country Life
Despite all the fame or fortune, Reba is a regular country girl at heart. The singer likes guns and enjoys going shooting. She did, however, explain that she did not learn to shoot as a little girl. She actually took shooting lessons later on in life when she was filming a movie. She recounted:
“When I found out that I was going to do a movie called Buffalo Girls with Anjelica Huston several years before this, I went and learned how to skeet shoot and trap and shoot because I wanted to be able to look like I knew how to shoot a gun because we never did that when we’re home in Oklahoma.”
On February 3rd, 2017, Reba dropped her first-ever gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. The album actually came with two different disks. One of them included more traditional hymns while the other one featured her original songs.
Reba admitted that her ex-manager, Bill Carter was the one who gave her the idea to make a gospel album in the first place. It turned out to be a wonderful decision. It was her 28th studio album and filled with her favorite songs that she had been gathering over the years. She also drew some inspiration from a hymn book she loved as a child.
If there is one talented person who can do it all, it’s Reba. In addition to her incredible career in the entertainment industry and breaking records left and right, she also dipped her toes in the restaurant industry. In January 2018, she was cast as the first-ever female Colonel Sanders in an original KFC commercial.
The advertisement was to promote their new item called “Smoky Mountain BBQ,” and she sang while decked out in the Colonel’s outfit and then threw a hat to the crowd, which landed perfectly on the actual Reba’s head. Reba enjoyed her experience in the fast-food industry and thought it was a fun experience.
The KFC commercial may sound like a strange idea, but the country starlet didn’t hesitate at all. In fact, Reba was honored to be a part of the commercial. She explained to reporters how she felt when she was offered the gig: “Absolutely I want to do that. Who wouldn’t want to be the first female Kentucky Fried Chicken Colonel?” I can’t argue with that.
She broke yet another record as the first woman Colonel for KFC and really enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The singer mentioned that “it feels good. And my goatee tickles a bit… and my mustache. But I am a pretty good looking gray-haired man.”
A Country Music Legend
Reba McEntire has been in the music industry since the ‘70s, but it doesn’t look like she is slowing down any time soon. With 29 studio albums, 16 No. 1 albums, and 40 No. 1 hit singles, it’s clear that music is her true destiny. I mean, 28 of her albums went to gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. She is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Rumor has it that she might be on a TV series described as a “southern gothic soap opera.” Based on her past TV work, I think it’s safe to say she won’t disappoint. We’re not entirely sure what the future holds for the singer, but she is already larger than life and can handle just about anything that is thrown her way.