Reba McEntire’s Strategy to Evolve as an Artist Through Several Generations

by Jonathan Howard

Few in music are able to transcend multiple generations. While country music has its legends, Reba McEntire has set a standard. That standard is in longevity, adaptation, and the ability to evolve as an artist. Reba has made her way into American culture through her music and self-titled TV show as well as other projects.

Fans know Reba for many songs. Perhaps younger fans recognize her best for her time on television in her family sitcom, Reba. However, since the 1970s, Reba has been recording and making classic country hits. While her career didn’t start off as an overnight success, Reba’s hard work and determination eventually paid off.

All the way back in 1979, Reba put out her second studio album. Out of a Dream became her first big success. On that album, McEntire recorded a cover of Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dream. The cover of the classic song became Reba’s first top-20 hit on the Billboard country charts. The song peaked at 19 on the chart.

Throughout all the years, Reba McEntire has stayed relevant in the country music scene. Over the years, her catalog is rivaled by very few. Not just in volume, but in quality as well. Early trials and tribulations showed McEntire the way to carry herself. She sat down with WebMD to talk about a few things, including how she keeps evolving as an artist.

Reba explains it simply, “I look to the songwriters to guide me, to help me see what’s current…I have to find the song that touches my heart and makes me feel some sort of emotion.”

Reba McEntire Through the Years

That attention to emotion and feeling has only led to Reba McEntire’s success. Many critics claimed that her early career was hampered by not having creative control. By the time Reba released her fourth album, Heart to Heart, she had started to figure out the industry.

What McEntire has learned in her almost five-decade-long career, is that emotion is the important part of the equation. Country music is the music of working people, everyday people, struggling people. Music that moves people will always see success.

“If I sing a song that is not touching any emotion in me, when I sing it to you, you won’t feel emotion either.” After a somewhat forced, pop-country career in the 1970s, Reba knows how important it is to be genuine in her music.

One look over Reba’s Spotify page shows the multi-generational success. In the top-5 songs suggested on the page, three are contemporary songs from McEntire. 2009’s Consider Me Gone, the classic theme of her sitcom, I’m A Survivor, as well as 2007 single, Because Of You. Reba has so many great songs, and likely more on the way.