On This Day: Reba McEntire Becomes Grand Ole Opry Member in 1986

by Keeli Parkey
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Becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry is a milestone for any recording artist. Reba McEntire received that accolade 35 years ago today on Jan. 15, 1986.

The Oklahoma native’s induction into that revered institution came nine years after she performed there for the first time, according to The Boot. On that night in 1977, she was originally going to perform two songs. However, she was limited to one song because Dolly Parton made a surprise visit to the Opry.

McEntire was just starting to make a name for herself in 1977. That year, she joined Mercury Records and released her debut album. Her first single was “I Don’t Wanna Be a One Night Stand.” Also according to the article, she released her second album in 1979 and had her first Top 20 song. This was a cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams.”

Her first No. 1 hit came in 1982 with “Can’t Even Get the Blues” and Reba McEntire’s career began to take off. CMA and ACM awards came in 1984, as did two more No. 1 hits.

Reba McEntire’s 1986 induction into the Grand Ole Opry was part of a special 60th anniversary television event honoring the organization’s history. The article also says that the singer returned to the Opry to perform only three days later. That day, she took the stage to perform “Whoever’s in New England,” her latest song. This track would become her fifth No. 1 hit.

Reba McEntire Visits Grand Ole Opry at 7 Years Old

Interestingly, Reba McEntire’s history with the Grand Ole Opry goes back to her childhood. According to the Opry’s website, she first visited when she was just seven years old. Unfortunately, while watching the show, young Reba became ill and quickly made an exit.

Once outside, she threw up on the front steps. The future country superstar saw enough of the show that night and not too many years later she began singing professionally.

Reba McEntire’s induction into the Grand Ole Opry is well deserved. And in the 35 years since she joined the institution, she has lived up to the honor. According to the Opry’s website, she is the only female recording artist to have had a No. 1 single in every decade sing the 1980s.

She has sold more than 55 million records and won two Grammys. She has received more Country Music Association Award nominations than any other female artist.

In addition to singing, she has had successful acting career. She has appeared in film and on Broadway. She also had a hit television show, “Reba,” which aired from 2001-2007.

Want to see more from Reba McEntire? Check out her performance of “What If” from 1997, “Rumor Has It” from 1990, or her cover of “Respect” from 1988. She will also be making an appearance on Loretta Lynn’s new album due out March 19.


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