Reba McEntire Keeps the Conversation Going

How She Earned Her First Nickel in Cheyenne

On Wednesday night (Feb. 20), after Reba McEntire had announced the ACM Awards nominees on CBS This Morning, she headed over to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to keep talking about what surprised her the most when she saw the list of nominees; especially in the grand prize, the entertainer of the year category.

“There weren’t any women in the entertainer of the year category. I was very disappointed by that. They’re great,” she said of the men on the list. “But I wanted to hear some women in there. That would’ve been really nice.”

While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on what it takes to be crowned the entertainer of the year, the ACM’s voting criteria for that category leaves no room for ambiguity. It is not, contrary to what fans often think, just a touring award. The factors considered are success at radio, sales of pre-recorded music, success of music videos, vocal performances, live concert ticket sales, artistic merit, appearances on television, appearances in films, songwriting, success in digital media, and contributions to the country music industry. So touring is only one of the eleven pieces of the puzzle.

McEntire herself took that ACM Award home in 1994, after 18 albums and about 33 years of singing professionally.

When Colbert asked McEntire about her roots, he wanted to know what her very first paying gig as a solo artist was.

So around the time that McEntire and her siblings Pake and Susie were known as The Singing McEntires, they went with their dad — a rodeo cowboy and a rancher — to a roping event he was in.

“I was in the lobby of the Frontier Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyo. And everybody during those days would go down to the lobby. They wouldn’t stay in their rooms because no one had a television. So they’d all go down to the lobby and visit. They paid my brother a quarter to sing ’Hound Dog.’ I said, ’Help me out. I need some money, too,'” she recalled. Pake convinced her to sing her version of “Jesus Loves Me.” She did, and when she was done, she was paid one-fifth of what Pake was paid. “I got a nickel for it.”

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