Country Throwback: Reba McEntire Covers Aretha Franklin Hit ‘Respect’ at 1988 CMA Awards

by Katie Maloney

Reba McEntire paid homage to one of her greatest soul influences, Aretha Franklin, during the CMA Awards 32 years ago.

It’s not every day that you get to see a country musician decked out in full 80s garb performing a 1967 rhythm and blues song. But McEntire delivered during the 1988 Country Music Awards with her performance of Aretha Franklin’s classic, “Respect.”

Before the performance, Dolly Parton introduced McEntire as, “The only person to win the female vocalist award four times in a row.” According to Parton, McEntire says that “when it comes to the soul part of her singing, Aretha Franklin is her influence.”

After the performance, Parton enthusiastically says, “Honey, you got my respect, if that counts. Great job!” Then Parton jokes, “Watch out Aretha!”

Reba McEntire performs “Respect” during the 1988 CMAs.

Reba McEntire Says Music Heals Her ‘From the Inside Out’

Undoubtedly, the song is known as an Aretha Franklin hit. However, “Respect” was originally written and recorded by Otis Redding. The song was later made famous by Franklin when she released her version.

Franklin added her own flair to the song. She told the story from a female’s perspective and added the iconic “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus. These changes turned the song into an anthem for women that is still recognized (and enthusiastically sung) today.

McEntire recorded her version of “Respect” for her 1988 album, Reba McEntire. We give McEntire a lot of respect, it takes guts to cover a song by the Queen of Soul. Since her performance, McEntire has continued to find inspiration in dark times through soulful songs.

During an interview, McEntire opens up about her divorce from her husband of 26 years and how music helped her heal. McEntire says that her friends pushed her to talk about her experiences but she wasn’t yet ready to do so. Then her friend sent her a song called, “From the Inside Out.”

Lyrics from the song include, “Forgive me if I won’t play the conversation gameAllow me some solitude, it’s good for a soul … give me room to cower underneath my fear.” McEntire says the song spoke to her experiences.

“I said, ‘Wow, this says it so plainly.’ I don’t want to talk about it now, I want to heal from the inside out. And when I do heal, then I’ll be able to talk about all of my pain and what I’ve been through,” said McEntire. “So that’s a very powerful song that I think a lot of people will be able to relate to.”

McEntire recorded the song for her album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope Album.

Reba McEntire’s “From the Inside Out”