As Reba embarks on an exciting new chapter of her career with the much-anticipated release of Keep On Loving You, her debut album with The Valory Music Co., it is readily apparent that shes not your typical icon.
Sure, shes amassed the sort of career statistics that ensures legendary status in popular music more than 55 million in album sales, 33 No. 1 hits, 2 Grammys, seven Country Music Association Awards (CMAs), 12 Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs), nine Peoples Choice Awards and 15 American Music Awards. The Oklahoma quadruple threat has also found success in television, where her self-titled primetime TV series was a top-rated sitcom for six seasons, on Broadway, where she received rave reviews for her irresistible performance in Annie Get Your Gun, and in film. (And theres a best-selling autobiography, as well as the popular Reba collection at Dillards featuring womens clothing and footwear and bed and bath specialty items.)
But what separates Reba from other cultural trailblazers with decades-long careers is that she is hotter than ever. Her name remains a familiar sight atop the charts, now nestled among a generation of artists who have been strongly influenced by her music and career path. "Strange," the sassy debut single from Keep On Loving You, is the fastest-rising solo single and highest solo chart debut of her 33-year career. The new album is the follow-up to Reba Duets, which hit No. 1 on both pop and country album charts. Her last 13 studio albums have each received platinum status for reaching 1 million in sales.
She releases her 31st album to the largest fan base that shes ever had. "Going on TV, I got out in front of so many millions of people not only in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, but all over the world, so that just broadened," she says. "Now wherever I go, everybody recognizes me far more than they ever did when I just had a singing career. I was coming from Mexico and there was a plane from China going through immigration about the same time we were. A lot of Chinese people were looking over at me and saying, You are Reba McEntire. We see you all the time on TV."
While proud of her accomplishments, Reba has little interest in looking back; shes too focused on what lies ahead in her relentless quest to find a better song, deliver a better performance and create a more entertaining show. "Its harder to maintain than it is to get there, so to maintain is one thing, but to kick it in the butt again and go on forward is another," she says. "I am very competitive; that is the driving force behind my career curiosity and competitiveness. Kenny Rogers always told me, I dont have to be No. 1, but I sure like running with the Top 10. Were always looking ahead, seeing what more we can do."
This forward thinking led her to leave her longtime label and sign with The Valory Music Co., a move that reunited Reba with Scott Borchetta, the president/CEO of Valory and sister label Big Machine Records, who formerly worked with Reba at MCA Nashville Records. Borchetta, one of the industrys great record men, helped Reba earn 14 No. 1 singles and sell more than 22 million albums during his tenure at MCA. More recently, he launched the career of Big Machines Taylor Swift and signed Jewel, Jimmy Wayne and Justin Moore to Valory.