She’s one redhead who means business! With a phenomenal track record that spells sheer success, Reba McEntire means it more now than ever. Having now become the No. 1 best-selling female country artist of all time, in addition to being the No. 8 top-selling female artist throughout all musical formats, her plans to record more music and pursue an even more indepth movie career are full steam ahead.
At a recent Nashville gathering chock-full of music industry peers and press, McEntire announced her on-going and long-term recording contract with MCA Records, a new film venture with Universal Studios, and was once again presented with a spread of pure platinum.
Her recent Starting Over disc has now sold in excess of one million copies. Her brand new album entitled What If It’s You has also passed the platinum plateau as well. The grand total of records sold by this Oklahoma native now peaks at just less than 40 million, with 25 No. 1 singles under her belt.
But simply wailing out country tunes, for McEntire, is no longer the only bullseye on the dartboard. “All of this is just so much fun because the sky is the limit,” explains McEntire.”
Her career goals now hurdle entirely across the board. With her StarStruck corporation coming into play in 1988, McEntire grabbed hold of several other reins. The organization has successfully diversified into everything from music production, publishing, booking, management, publicity and film production, to construction, a charter jet service and raising racehorses.
Such unrivaled results from this multi-talented business woman didn’t happen overnight. Following a limited amount of success with Mercury Records in the 70’s, and then a shaky first marriage that ended in 1987, McEntire began reaching for the sky with open arms. She’s since then learned how to bypass the clouds and keep moving upward. Her strong will and determination push her to the top, where she graciously shares the spotlight with a support team and die-hard fan base that’s behind her 100-percent.
“When I first started out with MCA in 1984, there were a couple of things that I needed to learn,” says McEntire. “One was specifically learning how to work with a team. Because when I was growing up in Southeastern Oklahoma, the thing that we were taught was to work hard. If you worked hard, you got to eat. And if you worked real hard, you slept real good at night. The thing that my Daddy didn’t teach me was what I learned about later on in life — teamwork. Daddy, at an early age, was kind of pushed into being an adult. So having things explained to him just didn’t happen. Therefore, he didn’t know how to explain that to us. So working with a team is something that I’ve been very fortunate enough to do.”
After what seemed like an unfortunate stint with Mercury Records, where much of McEntire’s early material was sugar-coated with a synthetic pop approach, she finally recovered her own traditional singing style and launched her first No. 1 record with “Can’t Even Get The Blues.”
The blues turned to an even brighter shade when McEntire signed with MCA Records in 1984. Both her radio and sales success began to soar. “MCA Nashville’s association with Reba has been one of the most successful collaborations in country music history,” says MCA Nashville President, Tony Brown. “We have a very deep and special pride about being able to work with Reba and her artistry.”
For McEntire, the feeling is obviously mutual. “The team at MCA has been a very, very fun bunch of people to get to work with. It’s been interesting. It’s been educational, and it’s been a family,” she explains. That’s what’s been so much fun for me. I’ve gained so many new friends. And to accomplish things such as these two new platinum albums is why I was also applauding. It took team-work. It was fun, and we did it together.”
“Everytime a song would get into the top ten, everybody would just get so excited and everybody would work harder,” she continues. “They just don’t stop there. Then if we go No. 1, that just means we want another No. 1 — right?” she laughs.
Something else in the big picture for this spit-fire business lady is hopefully more of herself on the big screen. Now added to her StarStruck empire is a film production division which recently tag-teamed with the famed Universal Studios.
“The family is getting so much bigger” says McEntire. “With StarStruck and Universal Films, it’s going to be a very big venture.”
The joining of the two entertainment forces will hopefully mean McEntire starring in bigger and better pictures, possibly producing major films herself, and bringing her music and the MCA Nashville family into the film projects. She’s already increased her attention as an actress with roles in Tremors, Buffalo Girls, The Gambler Returns, The Man From Left Field, The Little Rascals, Is There Life Out There and North.
“Whether it’s just acting, producing or if there’s some music involved, that’s going to be the fun part for the next five years or so, or ever how long it takes,” McEntire tells her supporters. “And even if it’s just one movie, I know that you’ll be with me and we’ll have fun with it and I’m looking forward to it.”
Keeping the fun-factor turned up throughout work-related projects has become another key to success for McEntire. Her positive attitude, along with the support of her manager/husband, Narvel Blackstock, and son, Shelby, has given her the strength to get through some bad times and press onward to the good ones.
Such optimisim for women in the country music industry, however, has certainly changed over the years. It’s been almost 30 years since Tammy Wynette sang “Stand By Your Man.” Today, McEntire could be singing Stand By Your Empire. At 41, the dazzling, multi-award-winning entertainer continues to blaze the trail for other aspiring artists. Female top-guns such as Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna and Terri Clark have since then gone on to either produce or co-produce their own albums, arrange their own tours and control practically every aspect of their careers.
McEntire has undoubtedly created an enormous influential impact on country music’s future for both up and coming acts and for female entertainers, particularly. For several years, she has been noted as one of the top 10 touring acts in all formats of music, according to Amusement Business, the trade publication which specifically tracks the talent and tours industries. McEntire is often ranked as the No. 1 country touring act — grossing as much as $22 million per year.
Even with the cost of state-of-the-art video screens, special effects, multi-hundreds of lights and speakers, several costume changes, an entire dance team and a fleet of trucks to transport the show, McEntire will still net as much as an estimated $150,000 plus per show. Her tour kicks off the 1997 year in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 28, with country’s dynamic duo, Brooks & Dunn.
It was 20 years ago that McEntire released her first single entitled “I Don’t Want To Be Your One-Night Stand.”
What an understatement.