Reba McEntire has always been open about her close relationship with her mother, Jacqueline McEntire, who died from cancer in 2020. She passed away at the beginning of the pandemic, and lockdown started when the singer was in Oklahoma for her mother's funeral.
"Cancer might think it won the battle, but we're giving God credit for selecting the time to go home," McEntire said on Instagram. "She was ready to see our daddy."
McEntire told "TODAY" that she had imagined her parents meeting in heaven "thousands of times." The Country Music Hall of Famer's new song and video "Seven Minutes In Heaven" explores what she would do if she had seven minutes in heaven to spend with her mama.
"The music video for 'Seven Minutes In Heaven' is just really sweet and simple," she said. "We tried to imagine what it might be like to go to heaven and sit down with someone you've lost. The heartbreaker is that you only get to spend seven minutes with them. For me, that person is my Mama. I hope that the fans can imagine who that person is for them and find some comfort in knowing that someday, they'll get to spend forever with that person they love."
The music video shows McEntire laughing and chatting with an older woman with flaming red hair, just like the singer's. They hold hands and hug, and McEntire's eyes are filled with a daughter's warmth and love for her mother.
"Seven Minutes In Heaven" is the only new song on McEntire's acoustic album "Not That Fancy," which came out Friday. Dave Cobb, most known for his work with Chris Stapleton, produced the 14-song project that includes fresh versions of her hits, including "Fancy," "Consider Me Gone" and "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia."
"Dave is so much fun to work with," McEntire said. "I think we make a great team. I always say that I'm just the messenger for a song, and hopefully, if it touches my heart, it will touch the listeners' hearts, too. Dave loves music and knows how to take a song and give it some breathing room so that you can focus on the lyric and the message. I hope my fans will love hearing these familiar songs in a different way. They're a little more raw and emotional."
"Not That Fancy" is a companion album to McEntire's book "Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating and Dusting Off Your Boots," available Tuesday.
McEntire started working on the book during the pandemic, and she said it quickly became clear she needed an album to go with it. She previously released a boxed set called "Revived Remixed Revisited" that housed many of the "Not That Fancy" songs. She realized how well the stripped-down songs from the set would complement her homespun book. So, she repackaged some of them with "Seven Minutes In Heaven" and rerecorded three more of her hits for the "Not That Fancy" album.
The album is the precursor to McEntire's long-awaited book "Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots" which will be out Tuesday, October 10. The book is a collection of funny, poignant, and deeply personal stories combined with photos, lifestyle tips, and recipes. McEntire said choosing the highlights was impossible.
"When you get my family together, we can tell some stories!" she said. "I tried to pull out ones that I hadn't told before or things that have happened more recently in my life, like spending time with my siblings after Mama's passing. I could have probably written a whole book that is just our family stories, but we had to pick the ones that fit the theme of the book the best."
The recipes are personal, too. McEntire said those are the ones her family returns to again and again, as well as favorites from her restaurant Reba's Place, which she opened in Atoka, OK, in 2023. It might be more challenging to choose a favorite recipe than her best story.
"That would be like picking a favorite kid!" she quipped. "There's no way I could pick just one. I am partial to the crispy smashed potatoes recipe because I created that one myself! And the tater tot recipe is a favorite. You'll have to get the book to find out why!"
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