An Interview with Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire fans are like her worldwide family, and they share her pride when she garners another accolade. The latest is the inaugural Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Career Maker Award, and no one but Reba seems surprised that she’s about to be handed a Kennedy Center Honor. “I was flabbergasted,” she declares. “I was just so thrilled. It is beyond entertainment. It’s kind of like you’re the all-around cowboy if you’re in the rodeo. It’s more than just being able to sing.” But it’s the songs from the Queen of Country that have defined her career, selling over 56 million copies and making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.

When she isn’t singing, Reba might be acting, which propelled her TV sitcom Reba to success for six seasons. Its cancellation was a big disappointment, but there is hope that the series might return.

“We’ve kept working on it,” she says, “and right now, the reruns make it the most popular syndicated show next to M*A*S*H.”

When Reba entertains at one of her favorite venues — The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas — with Brooks and Dunn, she not only stops every show, she has to sing a little louder to be heard because those fans are singing right along with her. Always grateful, she insists, “I give the songwriters and the writers of the TV show the credit on all of this, because without the words for me to sing or to talk, I wouldn’t have that gift. It’s a total gift from God. I always say, ‘Let me be the conduit. Let me help in any way I can.’”

In addition to her appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors (airing December 26), she’s also making a return performance as host of the CMA Country Christmas on ABC.


Jeanne Wolf: On your latest album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope, you sing about your belief in a higher power. Ever worry that being so open about your faith might seem like you’re preaching?

Reba McEntire: I know what you mean, but my grandma always taught by example. I’m not out to teach or preach; I’m just showing everybody that I’m happy the way I am because of my faith. It’s a relief to me that God is always taking care of me, always helped me through the hard times, and is always there with me in the great times. Music and entertainment seem to be a way to deliver a little message to folks without beating them over the head and preaching to them. It’s very subtle, but it hits the heart. I’m looking in people’s faces when I’m performing, and I know when a song is really touching their hearts. Hopefully, they feel like I am singing it to them. It makes me feel real good that they felt that they got that connection.

Music has helped me in so many different ways. After I lost seven of my band members and my tour manager in a plane crash in ’91, we went to the studio and started recording songs. Leland Sklar, the bass player, said, “Reba, are we going to record any happy songs on this album?” I replied, “Not on this one,” because it was helping me heal my heart. It’s true about my divorce, too. The world doesn’t stop for a broken heart, and that’s the truth. You’ve got to go on, but you’ve got to express your pain, and the way I did it was through my music. The songs I choose, 99 percent of them, are about heartache, and that’s what makes country music so popular. It’s relatable. When a person is sad, they don’t listen to happy songs. I guess misery loves company.


JW: When you and your husband and manager of 26 years, Narvel Blackstock, broke up, you shared your stress and disappointment. Now you’ve introduced your new beau, Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo, at last year’s Grammy Awards.

RM: I think that kind of split is hard on anybody. I’m no different than anyone who’s ever gone through a divorce or a death. Even if you’re in the public eye, the hurt’s the same. I don’t have any secrets, because people pretty much know everything. Time has passed and I’m a happy camper. I have a new love in my life, and I have done things that I couldn’t have gotten to do before, so I’m always a firm believer that timing is everything and everything happens for a reason.

There’s a lot of things I miss. I worry for my family, because a divorce hurts more than just the two people who get divorced. It’s a ripple effect. It’s everybody that is involved. It changes everybody’s lives.

My boyfriend, Skeeter, is a great guy, very open, and we’re having fun together. We’ve been to Africa, Iceland, and Italy this year. I think being very secure in his own skin makes it a lot easier to deal with the things he has to deal with for me. He’s a very confident, secure man, and so he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, and we have a wonderful time with all the stuff that we’re getting to do.


JW: What has helped you make it to the top and set such high standards for yourself without letting your fame and success change you?

RM: First of all, my parents. My mama’s a little spitfire. There are about 50 things that I can hear her saying in my mind, but the number one thing is, “I love you gobs and gobs.” Daddy was the strict disciplinarian, a hard-working man with little patience. One of the sweetest things he ever said about me was, “Reba, when I hear people talking about you or when I hear your voice on the radio, my stomach just goes to pumpkin.” And the other was, “Reba, you sure do work hard.” From Daddy, that was a huge compliment.

I’m the first to admit, I’m very competitive. I love to play games, and I love to win, but when I lose, I’m the first one to start clapping and say, “Congratulations, now let’s do it again, because I’m going to whip your butt.” I grew up on a working cattle ranch. My daddy and my grandpap were world champion cowboys. My brother and I were always competing, saying, “Anything you can do I can do better.” You wanted to win, but it was also a game.

People say, “How do you stay so grounded?” I say, “Well, my sister calls me a twinkle, not a star.” I don’t have yes-people around me. I love teamwork. I don’t think anybody is supposed to do everything by themselves. It’s lonely, doing it by yourself, even if you can. But I can be a diva, a big-time diva. My co-star on my TV show Reba, Melissa Peterman, was saying the other day, “I love to see Reba when she puts on that red dress and walks out on stage and becomes fancy. She’s just got a strut to her.”

This article appears in the November/December 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

News of the Week: Cold Baseballs, Warm Robots, and a Heated Debate About Selfies

This Is Baseball Season?

Ah, spring. That time of year when the umpire screams “play ball!” and everyone buys their hot dogs and popcorn and basks in the sunshine. This year, it’s also the time when people have to shovel out their cars to get to the baseball stadium and wear wool hats and gloves while holding those hot dogs and popcorn.

It snowed in many areas of the country this first week of baseball season. I had to shovel three times in one day because it just wouldn’t stop snowing. The Boston Red Sox, who I’m mentioning because they’re my team, actually had their first game of the season postponed, not because of rain but because of cold temperatures. The game was played the next day, and the Sox beat Cleveland 6-2.

To help you get into a baseball frame of mind, even if there might be a chill in the air and white on the ground, here’s a gallery of classic Saturday Evening Post baseball covers, this collection of vintage baseball ads, and my take on why we shouldn’t change the game. And don’t forget to get our special baseball collector’s issue.

Here’s the full schedule for every MLB game that will be played this season. It’s okay to be excited about baseball — just make sure you don’t put away the shovels and ice melt yet.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

The robot from Lost in Space survived a lot of ordeals during the show’s three-season run: the scheming of Dr. Smith, various attempts by aliens to control it, and that weird episode where he and the Robinson family were captured by a big carrot.

Now the robot has escaped a real-life danger. A garage in Los Angeles where the robot was being stored with other TV and movie props caught on fire. I’m glad the fire didn’t spread, but there’s something funny about the picture in that article, with all the firemen on top of the garage while the headless robot from Lost in Space stands in the foreground.

If you’re wondering why the robot just didn’t run out of the burning garage on his own, if you ever watched Lost in Space you’ll remember that moving fast wasn’t one of the robot’s strong suits.

“It’s a Trap!”

Erik Bauersfeld had a long, distinguished career in radio, but he’s probably best known to general audiences for three words he spoke in Return of the Jedi:

Bauersfeld passed away last Sunday at his home in Berkeley, California. He was 93. He also did the voice of Ackbar in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Merle Haggard passed away this week too, on Wednesday, which just happened to be his 79th birthday. (It’s always surprising when someone dies on their birthday, and it makes for an odd tombstone.) He was a colorful country music star, not just singing about hard times and prison but actually serving time, too, for three years after being convicted of burglary in 1957. He was still touring right up until his death, having to cancel several recent concerts because of health problems.

Internet Is Now internet

Finally, the Associated Press is catching up to everyone who uses the internet.

If you’re like me, you hated to capitalize the word internet. It wasn’t something that people did many years ago, but somewhere along the line, it became the right thing to do. It never looked right to me — or maybe it was the simple fact that I just got used to doing something a certain way and didn’t want to do it the “right” way — so I always used the small i.

Now it looks like we can officially use that lowercase letter, because the Associated Press has ruled that we can use that small i and not lose any sleep over it. We can also use web instead of Web.

The change doesn’t officially take effect until June 1, when the AP publishes the 2016 edition of its stylebook. Of course, individual publications can still make up their own minds, so I’m going to wait and see what my editor here has to say about the subject. My spell-checker still tells me I’m wrong.

And the Jeopardy! Power Players Are …

Some people like to watch celebrities mambo and waltz on their TV screens, and some like to watch celebrities answer in the form of a question. I’m in the latter camp.

Jeopardy! has announced the names of the celebrities who will take part in its Power Players Week. Not to over-hype it, but it really does seem like one of the best celebrity tournaments they’ve had. Competing will be comedian Louis C.K.; writer and internet-hater (and Internet-hater) Jonathan Franzen; Meet The Press host Chuck Todd; former Meet The Press host David Gregory; CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Kate Bouldan; CNN political commentators S.E. Cupp and Ana Navarro; Minnesota Senator Al Franken; CBS’s Lara Logan; Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner; The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart; MSNBC’s Michael Steele; ABC senior legal correspondent Sunny Hostin; and Melissa Harris-Perry, who just famously left MSNBC in a very controversial and public way.

The episodes will tape next week and will air the week of May 16-20. I don’t know which celebrities will face off against each other, but they have to pit Todd against Gregory in the same game, right?

De Plane, De Plane For Sale

In other TV prop news, the airplane seen at the beginning of Fantasy Island — in the scene where Tattoo points and yells, “De plane, de plane!” — is for sale. If you’re actually thinking about buying it, you might want to know what kind of plane it is. It’s a 1967 Grumman Widgeon G-44. It will be auctioned off April 14-15 at the Branson Convention Center in Branson, Missouri.

One thing you should know: After appearing on the show, the plane went through several different owners, one of whom used it to smuggle drugs.

What Is a Selfie?

The answer to this question should be selfie-evident: A selfie is a picture of yourself that you take yourself. That’s all there is to it, right? Not to some people, including Fusion news director Kevin Roose:


Okay, so by that logic, every single photograph that has ever been taken of someone is a selfie? I’m pretty sure those are just called, you know, photographs.

I wouldn’t usually call attention to the replies that a tweet gets, but the ones on the above tweet are worth clicking on and checking out. Not many people agree with Roose, and they give many examples of why he’s wrong (and for the record, Roose is indeed massively wrong).

I say that the word self in selfie is a big clue to what a selfie is, and you can’t just come along and start to expand the meaning of a word whose meaning is obvious. This is a good example of why you shouldn’t post anything on social media before thinking it through first. Actually, maybe it’s a good example of why you shouldn’t post anything on social media. End of sentence.

April Is National BLT Sandwich Month

I don’t know if I’ve ever referred to a BLT as a “BLT sandwich” before. I mean, it’s not like anyone could refer to a BLT as anything else but a sandwich, like a BLT ice cream sundae or BLT shake.

Here’s the recipe for a “classic” BLT, which of course combines bacon, lettuce, and tomato on white bread with mayonnaise. If you’re looking for something a little less classic and a little more adventurous, Serious Eats has several twists on the BLT, including one made with waffles and one called “animal style,” which adds ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes, there is such a thing as a bacon milkshake. You can leave the lettuce and tomato on the side.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Apollo 13 takes off (April 11, 1970)

The crew was put in danger after an oxygen tank exploded, but they safely splashed down in the Pacific six days later.

Civil War begins (April 12, 1861)

The Saturday Evening Post has been around so long that we actually covered the war while it was going on.

First man in space (April 12, 1961)

His name was Yuri Gagarin, and he completed an orbit around the Earth in the Russian spacecraft Vostok.

Butch Cassidy born (April 13, 1866)

His real name was Robert Leroy Parker, and he looked nothing like Paul Newman.

Titanic hits iceberg (April 14, 1912)

Here’s how The Saturday Evening Post covered the tragedy that took over 1,500 lives.

President Abraham Lincoln dies (April 15, 1865)

What did Lincoln hide from the public?