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Country music star Reba McEntire’s confident return to comedy: ‘Ain’t my first rodeo’


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Reba McEntire took that one chance, and country music has never let her down.

The “Fancy” singer, who earned the entertainer of the year award nearly 30 years ago, returns to the stage for the 17th time to emcee the Academy of Country Music Awards Thursday, May 16, in Frisco, Texas.

In addition to her hosting responsibilities, Reba will perform her latest single, “I Can’t,” during the live ACMs telecast. Her performance comes on the heels of the news her “Happy’s Place” pilot was recently picked up by NBC for a Friday night time slot in the fall. 

If McEntire’s plate seems full, don’t be fooled. She’s used to heavy lifting. 

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Reba McEntire is ready to return to TV with her new sitcom, “Happy’s Place.” (Getty Images)

“Happy’s Place” will follow the story of Bobbie, played by McEntire, who inherits her father’s restaurant after his death. Not only will she begin a new venture, she also learns about her new business partner, Isabella (played by Belissa Escobedo), who happens to be the younger half-sister she never knew she had.

“I love all genres of entertainment, but the sitcoms are just so much fun because it’s a brand new script every week, and you’re just having fun,” McEntire told Entertainment Tonight. 

“It’s really hard memorizing all the dialogue you have to do, but … it ain’t my first rodeo. I do love it. It’s just playtime. We have a blast with it.”

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Reba will have a few familiar faces on set, too, from when she was working on “Reba” and then “Malibu Country.”

The cast of "Reba" celebrating the show's 100th episode

Peterman and McEntire previously worked together on the sitcom “Reba” for six seasons. (Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)

“We’ve got the same producers, same showrunner, same writers, and now we’re back with Melissa Peterman and Rex Linn, my boyfriend, and wonderful, wonderful cast and crew,” she said.

McEntire first appeared alongside Peterman in the hit sitcom “Reba,” which aired on The WB and then The CW, for six seasons from 2001-07. The show was a huge success, and aside from the dynamic characters, it is remembered for its theme song, “I’m a Survivor,” sung by McEntire.

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She met her boyfriend, Rex Linn, nearly 40 years ago while working on the 1991 film, “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.” They had an instant connection three decades later when she guest starred on his show, “Young Sheldon,” and were already dating by the time she appeared with him on season 3 of “Big Sky.”

Reba McEntire and Rex Linn at America's Got Talent

McEntire and Linn started dating in 2020, after originally meeting in 1991. (Gilbert Flores)

Reba McEntire and Rex Linn on Big Sky

McEntire most recently starred in the final season of “Big Sky,” with boyfriend Rex Linn. (Michael Moriatis/ABC via Getty Images)

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“I’ve been married twice. After the second one dissolved, I don’t have much faith in … being bound by a piece of paper or a ring,” she told E! News. “But I’m truly committed to Rex, so if that’s something he feels totally strong about, that’s fine with me. He’s never been married before. So, if he wants to experience that, I’m OK with that.”

McEntire was previously married to Charlie Battles, from 1976 to 1987, and Narvel Blackstock, from 1989 to 2015. 

She has a close bond with her only son, Shelby Blackstock, whom she welcomed with her ex in 1990. Narvel is also the father of Brandon Blackstock, the ex-husband of Kelly Clarkson.

Narvel Blackstock in a blue blazer and a blue and white striped shirt smiles with Reba McEntire in a black dress at the CMAs

Reba McEntire and her second husband, Narvel Blackstock, formally split in 2015. (Larry Busacca)

Reba McEntire wears black dress to awards with her son.

Reba has a son, Shelby Blackstock, with ex-husband Narvel Blackstock.  (Ed Rode/Getty Images)

“Shelby is a gift from God to me,” she told People magazine. “We’re very close. I was a very self-centered person to a degree before Shelby. But then there’s a little character who you are given the job to protect and nurture and love and teach, so all the attention’s not on you anymore.”

Her transition into sitcom star came only after she ruled the charts as the queen of country, and Reba’s had an impressive music career that spans decades. 

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The Oklahoma-born singer grew up on an 8,000-acre cattle ranch and was encouraged to perform by her beloved mother. 

“It was mama who encouraged us kids to sing, taught us how to sing, took us to our singing jobs,” she told fellow country superstar Garth Brooks on TalkShopLive. “Thirteen years old playing beer joints and honky-tonks, Peg, Susie and I, getting up there and singing.” 

Her first big break came in 1974, when she was hired to sing the national anthem at the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City. Red Steagall caught wind of her performance, and Reba later signed with Mercury Records. The duo later collaborated on the 2007 hit “Here We Go Again.”

Reba McEntire 63rd Academy Awards

Reba McEntire, who lost most of her band in a tragic plane accident in 1991, sang “I’m Checkin’ Out” at the 63rd Academy Awards. (Getty Images)

In the midst of her flourishing career, McEntire was dealt a tragedy. While on tour in 1991, one of two private, chartered jets carrying members of her band crashed near San Diego. Eight band members did not survive the crash. The pilot and co-pilot also died. 

Days after the crash, McEntire put on a brave face and took the stage at the 63rd Academy Awards. She released her album, “For My Broken Heart,” later that year, which she dedicated to those who died in the accident.

Despite the tumultuous time, McEntire continued to focus on bringing positive messages to fans through her music. She’s released 13 No. 1 albums in her four-decade career.

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Reba has three Grammy awards, she’s won CMA female vocalist of the year four times, and, in 2018, she received the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime of contributions to American culture. Last year, Reba took over for Blake Shelton on the reality singing competition show “The Voice.”

In 2020, the celebrated singer announced she would be returning to her original label, Universal Music Group Nashville, where she spent the first 32 years of her career.

If her ACMs pre-show rituals are any indication, Reba’s putting faith first, just like she always has. 

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“I really enjoy doing the awards, so I don’t have any rituals,” she said in a video shared on Instagram. “I don’t have anything that I have to do before I go out except pray. 

“I ask the Holy Spirit to walk for me, talk for me, speak for me and sing for me. And that always gives me the confidence to take that first step and go have a good time.”





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