Reba McEntire felt the love in the room as she accepted her CMT Artist of a Lifetime award on Wednesday (Oct. 16) in Nashville.
“This has been a very inspiration, emotional night,” she said. “I want to thank everybody in this room. I know most of you, and you’ve had a lot to do with my career. I appreciate the lessons, the patience – not everybody was patient with me, but the ones who were, I appreciate that very much."
She continued, "I appreciate the people I got to open the show for. And the ones that guided and taught. I would get through with my show and run back and sign autographs, and then I’d sit there and watch their shows because I was learning all the time.”
Reba savored musical tributes by Lady Antebellum (“Is There Life Out There”) and Sam Hunt. She was also introduced by her friend, Vince Gill.
She told the crowd, “Vince and I, we put lots of miles on buses, on planes, golf carts… Had fun together and that’s what this business is all about. The people we get to learn from, but get to know. I’m very blessed to have so many friends. And I thank God. And Thomas Rhett, God bless you for praying in front [of us]. You’re special. That took guts. But as you said, that might not be aired on this but He knows. It better be aired! It better make the cut.”
She added, “Because that’s what we need in our lives, is a little more God. We’ve got to give this world back to God. We’ve got to give Him the focus and the attention that He needs. I love this business. I love country music. It’s fun. I love the competition and I love y’all. Thank you very much for this. I love my family, my friends. You all are super, thank you all so much!”
In his introductory remarks, Gill noted, “Reba and I have been friends for nearly 40 years, and they have a teleprompter but I can’t really read from that. It’s too far and it’s not from my heart. I have to speak from my heart when I talk about this woman.”
He continued, “I have shared a lot of life with Reba as a session guitar player early in my youth. As a session singer on many of her records. As a duet partner – I’m still pissed about ‘The Heart Won’t Lie’ because I had to do the video as a Marine and they said I was the fattest Marine in history.”
After joking around, he added, “We’ve done everything together. Like I said, we’ve been duet partners. We’ve been touring partners. We’ve hosted awards shows together. The most important thing you are is my friend, out of all of that. So that’s why I’m here tonight, because my friend is deserving of this. As friends, we’ve gone through divorces together. We’ve gone through death of the members of our family. We’ve gone through the death of members of our road family. We shared it all, and when the chips were down, that was the friend right there that I could always count on.”