Reba McEntire Explains How She Went From Wanting to Be a World Champion Barrel Racer to a Recording Artist

by Katie Maloney

Reba McEntire is a country girl through and through. Even her childhood dreams included barrel racing and country music.

For Reba McEntire, barrel racing and country music have always been connected to her career path. In fact, Reba got her start at the rodeo. Before she was a country superstar, Reba grew up working on her family’s cattle ranch in Oklahoma. The family had 8,000 acres and Reba woke up every morning to help her family take care of the farm. Naturally, as an Oklahoma girl, Reba was a fan of rodeo. And every year, she and her friends would attend the National Finals Rodeo. Then one day, her father suggested that Reba “get a job” while she was at the rodeo.

“I got my start singing the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1974,” said Reba during an interview for the documentary, Dear Rodeo. “I was going to go up there anyway…and my dad said, ‘Reba why don’t you get yourself a job if you’re going to go up there anyway.’ And I said, ‘Doing what?’ And he said, ‘Singing the national anthem.'”

Reba talks about her start at the rodeo.

Reba McEntire Landed a Record Deal After Being Discovered at the Rodeo

After a few years singing at the rodeo, Reba McEntire met musician Red Steagall. After hearing her perform, Steagall told Reba’s mom to bring her down to the studio to see if she could get a record deal. Eleven months later, Reba McEntire had a record deal with Mercury Records.

But even now as a country music star, she hasn’t lost sight of her childhood dream of being a champion barrel racer. During the same interview, Reba McEntire talked about a conversation she had with two-time American World Barrel Racing Champion, Gail Petska.

“I told Gail Petska that my dream was to be a world champion barrel racer. And she said ‘Man, I wish I could sing like you.’ And I said, ‘You wanna swap?’ And she said, ‘No,'” Reba said laughing.

Reba added that her rodeo dreams always intertwined with her country music goals. Even as a child, she daydreamed about winning the CMAs one day. She even had her acceptance speech ready.

“And I would go to bed after the CMA awards…and I laid in bed and I said, ‘I’d like to thank my mommy and daddy…’ I had my speech ready for one day when I wanted to be that too.”

In conclusion, Reba McEntire is the perfect example of how simply following the winding path of life can lead you directly where you’re meant to be.

“So it was the rodeo, the cowboys…daddy, and Red Steagall that kind of helped me on my way,” said Reba.