Thursday, 30 June 2022 01:38

WYNN - CMML - The Mega Star Series - Reba McEntire

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SW small Logo  The Mega Star Series rolls on this week with Reba McEntire, as she is the very definition of mega star.  When I write these, a goal is to find the intangibles and the gifts these stars gave us outside of the music, as we know the music is great.  In Reba's case, what she has done outside of the music, may be bigger than what she did with the music. She has been a very important figure for our format, and still is.

Her Very First Big Hit


Reba has come a long way from being a National Anthem singer on Sunday afternoons at local rodeos in Oklahoma.  She has racked up a ton of hits since 1980, won about every award you can, and done about all there is to do.  She came to Nashville and success was not immediate. A series of misfires that finally led to a little song called Up To Heaven in 1980, and things changed.  But even though she finally got on the charts with a top ten hit, there was still a mountain to climb.

Her First Number One Song


In the early 1980's, country was still dealing with the Urban Cowboy phase. Pop country was still the rule and just simply hearing Reba, there was little chance she would be confused with pop country. Her roots, sound and voice were traditional.  Not in talent, but in reality her very early career was sort of overshadowed by singers like Janie Fricke (incredible voice), Sylvia who was a pop country icon, Charly McClain who was very popular at the time and others.  Reba was positioned as the "every woman", singing songs of being very real and sticking to her country roots.  And in the end, it paid off.  As pop country began to, and finally did disappear, Reba was ready for a real run at greatness.

I Have Always Loved This Song - Patsy Cline-like


I feel she was part of real change in country when she emerged on the scene with George Strait, Alabama, Hank Jr., Earl Thomas Conley, and John Anderson. I think this group with Reba was the first step in a decade long powerful musical  change to a far more traditional sound, and she and this group deserve a whole lot of the credit. They gently asked pop country to leave and ushered in the new traditional sound.  1981 was a very important year that we just don't talk about enough, and she was at the center of it.

This Was A Big Hit


By the mid to late 80's Reba was the preeminent woman in country music without any question, and was one of our biggest overall stars.  But she soon became much more than that. She ran off a long line of major hit songs, but we would learn that was just the start of her greatness.  We soon found out she was funny, witty, and talented well beyond singing and performing. Her appeal was very reminiscent of Dolly Parton, as people just flat out liked her.  She started making movies, hosting award shows, making guest appearances and hosting TV shows.

Very Powerful Song - Sung Wonderfully


She eventually got her own sitcom, Reba, which helped put a new TV network on the map. Reba, like Dolly, was known for being really likable, and not just a singer. Reba has been on Broadway and has played or sung on about every stage there is to perform on.  She is a great example of simply sticking with it as trends and styles change and adapting.  In her early musical days, she was pressured to be more poppy than she wanted to be as that was the style. She disagreed and kept it country, and it paid off. 

Only #8 - But Fans Love Her Version Of This Song


Reba through it all achieved the success that few do. Dolly, her and Barbara Mandrell, in that era and the era shortly after did about as much as you could have for the success of country music. She introduced country to a whole lot of new people by being visible, effervescent and becoming wildly popular by using the radio, TV and the live stage to become an icon in pop culture without actually using the pop charts.  It's a tough line to walk, but all three did it. Becoming a star in country, and in pop culture, without alienating the country fan base.  Remarkably done by her and the other two.

Another Remake Fans Loved


There's a ton of hits, number ones and of course she has sold some 45 million albums in her incredible recording career, and none of that should be taken for granted or be overlooked.  But her success by and large can be attributed to the same formula used by Dolly.  You can't be a recording star forever, that's just the reality of it.  In our history, far too many have ignored that fact, or simply pretended it isn't true.  So Reba, like Dolly has gone through a series of career reinventions, personal style and direction changes to stay in the spotlight, stay current, and to stay relevant. 

Huge Duet - Linda Davis - Hillary Scott's Mom and Rebas Backup Concert Singer


So do you remember her, or think of her more of a country singer, or simply a part of our lives?  I have played every single Reba song on great radio stations all across the country over 40 years worth, and watched her dominate our format and the radio for a couple decades. But I see her more as an overall star, that got her start singing country music.  I'm not minimizing it, but she moved on, without moving on, and that was genius.  Not many get the chance, or maybe better stated, have the savvy to do what she and a very few others have done.  To be at the top of everything there is to do, and  do it well and keep every single fan.

Reba McEntire. She breathes the very rarest of air.

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