Reba McEntire stood demurely at the side of the stage through an hour of awards presented Monday afternoon (Jan. 25), but, being Reba, she was always the center of attention.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
The principal honorees were Steve Diamond and Marv Green, the writers of McEntire's latest and longest-running No. 1 single, "Consider Me Gone." The celebration was held at McEntire's own Starstruck headquarters in the heart of Nashville's Music Row.
"Consider Me Gone" stayed at No. 1 on Billboard's country chart for four consecutive weeks.
Word that McEntire would attend the event brought out virtually every television crew in the city and packed Starstruck's capacious vaulted lobby.
It seemed that everybody had a Reba story to tell or a memory to share.
"How cool is this?" exclaimed McEntire's label chief, Scott Borchetta, as he looked out over the crowd. "Reba McEntire and I have been involved in No. 1 records in the '90s, in the '0s and now in the '10s."
Borchetta began working with McEntire during her glory days at MCA Records, from which she departed over a year ago to join his label, Valory Music Co.
To get the partygoers in the proper mood, Borchetta played clips of DJs from all the major country music countdown shows announcing McEntire's achievement. "Consider Me Gone" is her 24th No. 1.
On one of these shows, Tim McGraw spoke of his wife, Faith Hill's, high regard for McEntire. "When Faith is around Reba," he said, "it just looks like it's the Second Coming."
ASCAP's Herky Williams introduced Diamond to the crowd, noting that "Consider Me Gone" was his third McEntire cut. His other hit-writing credits, Williams said, include Eric Clapton's "I've Got a Rock 'n' Roll Heart," John Michael Montgomery's "I Can Love You Like That" and Hill's "Let Me Let Go." He added that Diamond's songs have so far been used in 31 movies.
After presenting Diamond a commemorative guitar, Williams brought McEntire to the stage to give her a plaque. She remained there for the rest of the ceremony.
Williams also toasted Mark Bright, McEntire's co-producer.
Next, BMI's Jody Williams sang Green's praises, citing such earlier hits he'd co-written as George Strait's "True" and Lonestar's "Amazed" (which spent eight weeks at No. 1). He also referred to McEntire as "a beloved household name," pointing out that she had endeared herself to audiences not only by her singing but also through acting on TV and Broadway.
The BMI executive said it was commonplace for McEntire to call and thank songwriters whose songs she'd chosen to cut.
"I wanted 'em [the hit songs] first," McEntire quipped.
David Ross, in his role as publisher of the Music Row charts, told Reba he'd first been swept away by her performance in the early '80s after accompanying her on a bus trip to a show "somewhere in Kentucky."
David Scarlett, speaking on behalf of Country Weekly magazine, which issues "Story Behind the Song" awards, reminded McEntire she had cut three of his songs 20 years ago, for which he is still receiving "mailbox money" (royalty checks). Taking advantage of the opportunity, he handed her a demo of another of his songs to consider.
"She's officially looking for songs for the next record," Borchetta announced. He said he had gone to McEntire's recent show in Baltimore and was blown away by it. "Don't miss it," he told the crowd. "She kills." (McEntire is currently touring with George Strait.)
"Country music has been very, very good to me," said McEntire when it came time to close the presentations. "It's entertained me as long as I can remember. ... Whatever aspect of the music business you're in, I want to thank you. ... We're having the time of our lives. This will be a day I never ever forget."
View photos from the No. 1 party.