She’s undeniably a superstar and they’ve quickly become one of the all-time history-making duos in the music world. Just imagine the thrill of excitement, however, if Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn were to fuse their talented forces together. It’s a done deal. Both McEntire and Brooks & Dunn, multi-award-winning country acts which have long continued to cross challenging barriers and move musical mountains, have merged forces and are already creating spectacular success.
The three multi-platinum entertainers kicked off the explosion with the release of what’s been described as country music’s first ever “tri-et” — the threesome’s vocal collaboration on the scorching hot single, “If You See Him/If You See Her.” They successfully world-premiered the powerful song on this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, at which Brooks & Dunn again accepted honors for Top Vocal Duet.
Making yet another unprecedented move in the music world, the song is featured on both Reba and Brooks & Dunn’s brand new albums, which were both released on June 2nd. Coinciding with the releases, they will for the second time launch a major co-headline tour that will kick off in July, following a performance at this year’s Nashville-based CountryFest hosted by Reba on June 20th.
“Well, my album,” ponders Reba, “reminds me a lot of my 1990 album, Rumor Has It, in the way that because I broke my leg I had more time to slow down. I was forced to slow down and really took more time to listen to songs, dive into the music and concentrate and focus. The only two times that has ever happened in my life the product just came out flying! It’s great material and the songwriters have really outdone themselves on this album. I’m very proud of it. It’s a combination of very contemporary things to very traditional country. The things that I’m getting to sing now are what I grew up singing. So I’m really excited to be able to let everybody hear it.”
Being the part-time comedians they are, Brooks and Dunn’s analysis of their new album was not so elaborate. “We just basically threw ours together the way we always do,” laughs Kix. “It’s a train wreck from Texas — you gotta get it!”
“We just dropped our guard a little more this time around,” Ronnie explains seriously. “We just kind of said, ’Okay, let’s make a record that feels good to us and not worry too much about other people’s expectations.’ Kix and I really gave each other room to stretch. The two of us are just very different musically, in terms of what we like to hear and write. We accept that. We basically meet in the middle. There’s never been a rift, and it keeps things fresh.”
“Ronnie and I never lose sight of the fact that everything revolves around the music — we talk about that all the time,” Kix explains. “I know by looking at us it’s hard to tell sometimes, because we’re into everything from race cars to hot air balloons, to Cornflakes, to t-shirts and all this other stuff we’ve got goin’ on. But none of this is gonna be there for ten minutes if we don’t deliver with our music.”
With the excitement of the new single, two new albums and such unheard-of special bonuses, there’s more where that comes from, via what these three artists also have to deliver — their upcoming summer tour, which promises to be even more thrilling than last year’s. Their enormously successful 1997 co-headlining tour has been called the highest-grossing country tour in history. More than 800,000 fans turned out for the shows, which grossed more than $33 million. The tour featured 80 tons of equipment, 18 tractor trailers, 10 buses and an 88-person crew (plus an extra 100 crew members hired in each market).
More specific details of this year’s tour will soon be announced. Until then, one can only bet the results will be breathtaking. Both Brooks & Dunn and Reba assure us of that.
“The production itself and the new stage and everything is all new,” explains Ronnie. “We always try to make it fresh and new. Some of the new songs, we don’t know just yet how they will work, but we’ll come out and do some together (with Reba). And we’re going to end up doing the new single together, obviously.”
“Sure, we’ll be singing this song together as much as possible,” Reba adds. “I think it’s a great song. It’s a career song! It’s a song that I’ve been waiting on all my life, and to get to sing it with superstars is just the icing on the cake.”
“Oh, she’s working it now,” chuckles Ronnie at Reba’s flattering comment.
“What is it you want anyway — just come out and say it?” Kix chimes in laughing.
The double-dynamic tour is slated to carry through 1999, and will feature the talented Terri Clark and David Kersh as opening acts. Once again, Reba and Brooks & Dunn will alternate in the headlining spot each night. With rare artistic flexibility, these three superstars last year proved that all ego games and star trips could be easily set aside as they merged their massive touring organizations and took turns being each other’s opening act. A simple flip of the coin seemed to be the best solution and will possibly be the deciding ticket again this year. The coin flip between the two acts determined who would open in what city.
“After a month or so,” jokes Ronnie, who like Kix, has become good friends with Reba and her husband/manager Narvel Blackstock, “the only argument we had was over who’d go on last. We both wanted to be the opening act!”
While last year’s Reba/Brooks & Dunn tour, which covered a whopping 85 cities, showcased the artists in a unique in-the-round stage setting, this year’s summer-to-winter music-fest promises even more bells and whistles than ever.
“I think the fun thing for the fans who come out and see the show is that they’re going to get a bunch of big stuff,” explains Kix, ” a lot of bells and whistles and lights, camera and action. And that’s fun for us, too. We try to lean on the music, hopefully, foremost, but there will be a big show and it won’t be the same one they saw last year.”
Reba, who’s recently nailed a highly successful tour stint in Australia, where she’s also unveiled a rare Australian-released-only album of greatest hits, is equally excited about hitting the stage again with her two tour buddies.
“The song, the album and everything is just very exciting,” she admits, “so we’re just ready to rock and get out there again!”