Reba McEntire’s Opry Debut Was Cut Short Because of Dolly Parton: Here’s Why

by Jacklyn Krol

Why was Reba McEntire’s Grand Ole Opry debut set cut short? A Dolly Parton surprise.

Way back on September 17, 1977, Reba McEntire made her Grand Ole Opry debut. Almost nine years later, she was inducted into the Opry as a member on January 17, 1986. But things didn’t go as planned for McEntire.

Firstly, McEntire’s family drove from Oklahoma to witness her debut. When she and her family arrived, McEntire’s name wasn’t on the list. The security guard wouldn’t let them in at first. The family drove down the street to a gas station to use a pay phone to call her agent who had to get her name onto the list.

How Dolly Parton Was Involved In Reba McEntire’s Debut

Secondly, McEntire initially had a slot for two songs. She was going to single “Invitation to the Blues,” originally sung by Roger Miller and Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams.”

According to The Tennessean, Parton pulled up unexpectedly into the parking lot and was going to surprise fans with a performance.

“Dolly came walking in, and she was like a vision,” Reba McEntire told the outlet. “It was worth the drive from Oklahoma just to see Dolly.” She told the Opry crew that Parton “could have all the songs.”

Years later, when People asked what Reba McEntire’s favorite Opry moment was, she went back to her debut.

Singing Invitation to the Blues as my only song,” she said. “My set got cut short because Dolly Parton made a surprise appearance to perform.”

Additionally, The Boot noted that McEntire’s Opry debut was 30 years to the date that her father, Clark, won his first rodeo award.

Dolly and Reba’s Friendship

Furthermore, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire have been friends for over 40 years. In 2019, the women co-hosted the CMA Awards together with Carrie Underwood.

Additionally, Parton appeared on her sitcom, Reba, but she was also recently featured on her podcast.

“With a friendship that’s lasted over 40 years, @reba and I always have a lot to talk about,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “I am honored to be a guest on her brand new podcast ‘Living & Learning with Reba McEntire.'”

In addition to supporting one another in their endeavors, they have also briefly collaborated in music. They both performed in the all-star “Forever Country” collaboration. The recording was a mashup of Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson, and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”