A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is announced each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .
McEntire’s natural charm, one-of-a-kind voice and stunning looks have made her a multitalented entertainer with success as a country singer and as an actress.
Her first No. 1 hit came in 1982 with “Can’t Even Get the Blues,” and she has gone on to release a total of 40 No. 1 singles and 14 No. 1 albums to date. She has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.
One of the first country artists to embrace music videos and treat them like minimovies, her performances in videos like “Fancy,” “Whoever’s in New England” and “Is There Life Out There” led to a memorable role in the film Tremors and eventually to starring roles in the Broadway reboot of Annie Get Your Gun and her own television sitcom, Reba.
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011, she continues to tour and record, releasing the spiritually-minded single “Pray for Peace” in 2014.
Kix Brooks, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are just a few of the artists who named McEntire as one of the most influential artists in country music history.
“She’s very unique in that she has so many talents,” Brooks said. “Our first real opening tour was with Reba, and we got to see how real pros did it. She sings so good, she’s a really good actor and onstage she’s so funny and natural with people. That’s what a big star is all about.
“She’s got all the tools, and she brings them in spades because she enjoys it so much. She goes out there and just slays it every time she does it. For anybody that really wants to do this for a living — especially for women, because it is a different game for guys — if you don’t go to Reba McEntire school, you are missing a big part of the book.”
“I mean, she’s an icon,” Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott said. “She’s a one-namer. There’s not very many of those, you know? Personally, I’ve had the chance to know her since I was 5 years old because both my parents were in her band, and my mother, Linda Davis, did a duet with her — ’Does He Love You.’
“Not only does she record great music, she is the best at reinventing herself,” Scott continued. “I feel like she has such a thumb on the pulse of where she is in her career, what people want from her and keeping things interesting and exciting for all the fans. She’s the ultimate to me.”
“Everybody everywhere knows who Reba is,” Bryan said. “All you gotta do is say ’Reba.’ You don’t have to say anything else. That red hair, and (she’s) just an entertainer beyond entertainers. To entertain the way she can and has for so many years, she knows every in and out of the business. Nobody’s figured it out better than Reba McEntire.”
For a fellow vocalist like McBride, McEntire is the gold standard of female country singers.
“I can remember listening to Reba McEntire back in Kansas in my bedroom in high school,” McBride admitted. “I sang in my dad’s band, (and one of my first songs was) ’Can’t Even Get the Blues.’
“She just had such a unique sound. And she’s a really great singer. … When you try to sing ’You Lie’ or ’Rumor Has It,’ they’re hard songs to sing. Her range is amazing, and her control is amazing, so I really admire her as a vocalist. … I don’t know if I can describe what that vocal thing is. It’s just Reba. There’s nobody else that does that. She sounds like Reba when she comes on the radio. You just know it’s her.”
Shelton, who’s become close with McEntire over the years through business ties and personal friendship, agrees.
“She’s a stylist,” he said. “There’s nobody else that’s ever sounded like Reba McEntire, and she’s just a class act, too. I don’t know anybody — and it frustrates me — that works harder than Reba does. We have the same manager, so every time I’m like, ’Man, I need a week off,’ he’s like, ’Well, Reba hasn’t really taken any time off in like 30 years.’ … It’s like, ’Oh, well.’
“She’s just so talented in so many different ways, that the sky’s the limit for somebody like Reba,” Shelton concluded.
His wife Lambert expressed a similar reverence for the iconic redhead.
“I respect Reba so much,” she said. “Not just as an artist but as a woman and as a businesswoman. … Just because she’s Reba McEntire, you already respect her. She’s a legend, but then how she’s run her business and how she presents herself is always classy, and it’s always Reba. She’s never strayed away from Reba McEntire.
“I love that she’s country as hell, and it’s never gone away and it won’t go away,” Lambert added. “It’s country music, and she does it with pride. And that accent and that red hair, she carved out a spot for herself that will never be taken by anyone else.”
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