Reba McEntire was clearly the dominant female presence in the country music format from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s. She was born Reba Nell McEntire on March 28, 1955, in Chockie, Oklahoma, and grew up on a large cattle ranch. Her father was also a champion calf roper, which led to many far-flung rodeo tours for their family. Red Steagall, a recording artist for Capitol Records at the time, heard her singing the national anthem at the National Rodeo finals in 1974: his remarkable first impression helped allow her to sign with Mercury Records in 1975. The next year, she married rodeo rider Charlie Battles; their union lasted until their divorce in 1987.
In 1976, McEntire made her debut on Billboard's country singles chart with 'I Don't Want to Be a One-Night Stand.' She, however, did not score a Top 10 record until 1980 when 'You Lift Me Up to Heaven' climbed to number 8. During her next few years with Mercury she gained momentum through singles that usually landed in the Top 10 and Top 5 regions (she switched to MCA in 1984). Two of her Mercury singles climbed to #1: 'Can't Even Get the Blues' in 1983 and 'You're the First Time I've Thought About Leaving' in 1984. After three singles with MCA she finally again hit #1 with the 1984 release of 'How Blue.'
Reba was one of the first country stars to harness the potential of music videos. In her first video, 'Whoever's in New England,' she plays a suburban housewife who suspects her executive husband of enjoying carnal pleasures elsewhere. Her videos featured many celebrities, including actor Bruce Boxleitner, rock singer Huey Lewis, and actor/director Rob Reiner. From 1984 through 1987, Reba consecutively won the Country Music Association's female vocalist of the year award. She was voted CMA's entertainer of the year in '86, and she also won Grammys in 1986 and 1993. Between 1985 and 1997, she had 17 number 1's and 15 Top 5's, while selling more than 40 million copies.
In 1990, she played a major supporting role in the movie Tremors, and she later appeared in feature films and TV movies including North, The Little Rascals, The Gambler Returns, The Man From Left Field, Buffalo Girls, Is There Life Out There, Forever Love, and One Night at McCool's; she also starred in the network specials Reba Live and Celebrating 20 Years.
During the '90s, she mounted one of the most elaborate concert shows in any kind of music: it involved multi-tiered stage sets, a flying platform, and a company of dancers. In 1991, she recorded her next album, one of the best collections of her career, For My Broken Heart: it went on to sell more than 4 million copies, making it her best-selling studio album. Sadly, this fantastic album was inspired by the airplane crash that resulted with the deaths of seven band-members and her road manager.
McEntire's autobiography, Reba: My Story, was published in 1994: it became the basis of her intimate 2000 stage show tour, A Singer's Diary. In 2001, she took over lead of the Broadway production, Annie Get Your Gun. Later that year, she began her Warner Bros. TV sitcom series, Reba. She issued the third volume of her MCA hits in 2002, followed by the studio albums Room to Breathe in 2003, Reba #1's in 2005 and both 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection and Reba: Duets in 2007. She has been touring on a limited basis since 2004.