‘Catch of the Day’ – Reba McEntire – “Back To God” [VIDEO]
Today we feature a singer, songwriter and actress who was fresh out of high school when she got her break in the music industry, discovered while singing the National Anthem at a rodeo. Within a year she was in Nashville, with her first record contract.
Reba McEntire grew up in McAlester, OK, in a musical family. Her mother Jacqueline had wanted to be a country singer, but instead became a school teacher, but passed her love of music on to her children, daughters Reba, Susie and Alice, and son Pake. Reba, Susie and Pake would form the group The Singing McEntires while still in school, performing at local rodeos and local events. The family trio even recorded a song, “The Ballad of John McEntire“, which Reba wrote about their grandfather, who like their father, was a National Champion steer roper.
By 1974 Reba had enrolled in Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, OK, planning to become an elementary school teacher like her mother, but she was still singing locally every time her schedule allowed. She was hired to sing the National Anthem at the National Anthem at the National Rodeo in Oklahoma City, which is where singer Red Steagall (host of KLAW’s Cowboy Corner) discovered the singer, convincing her to come to Nashville and record a demo. McEntire wasn’t completely sold on a singing career, even though she signed a contract with Mercury Records in 1975, she remained in school, graduating with her teaching degree in 1976.
1976 also saw the release of McEntire’s first single “I Don’t Want To Be A One Night Stand“. The song failed to spark interest from country radio, peaking at #88 on the chart. The follow-up “(There’s Nothing Like The Love) Between a Man And a Woman” did slightly better, peaking at #86. Her third single, “Glad I Waited For You” again topped out at #88. Mercury had invested in two recording sessions, so the lack of single success while discouraging, didn’t prevent them from releasing McEntire’s self-titled debut album in August of 1977. The sound of the album was unlike anything she would record later in her career, drawing comparisons to Tammy Wynette and Tanya Tucker. The album failed to crack the top 100 on the country albums charts.
Mercury released two duets featuring Reba and Jacky Ward, “Three Sheets in the Wind” and “That Makes Two of Us” in 1978. Reba’s promise began to show through as both singles peaked in the top-30. Her second album, Out of a Dream, was released in 1979, featuring her first top-20 hit “Sweet Dreams“, as well as the two duets, along with a third Ward pairing, a cover of “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight“.
While her third album, 1980’s Feel The Fire, featured Reba’s first top-10 hit, “You Life Me Up (to Heaven), as well as two more top-20 hits, it became her third album that failed to chart. Her first album chart success came with album #4, 1981’s Heart To Heart, which peaked at #2, mostly due to its lead single, “Today All Over Again“, which became McEntire’s first top-5 single, but the album received mostly negative reviews. McEntire would later admit that not only were critics not liking the music she was recording during the early part of her career, but because of lack of creative control on her part, she didn’t like the music she was being given to record. She would record two more albums for the label, scoring a pair of #1 hits, but after her sixth album, Behind The Scenes, McEntire left Mercury in 1984 for the creative control that MCA Nashville would offer her.
From her first MCA album, 1984’s Just a Little Love until leaving the label in 2008, McEntire recorded 18 albums, all on her own terms. The album’s title track became the first of 42 top-10 hits, which included 20 #1 hits. She signed with Valory records in 2009, recording two albums for the label and landing 4 more top-10 singles and 2 number 1’s, giving her 24 #1’s total. With the addition of The Artists of Then, Now and Forever’s 2016 chart-topping debut single, “Forever Country“, Reba ranks second behind only Dolly Parton for the most #1 singles by a female country artist.
In December, Reba released a double-album, featuring songs of faith Sing It Now: Songs of Faith And Hope. The first single, already a #1 single on the Christian Music chart, is in our spotlight today. Reba McEntire and “Back To God” is today’s Catch of the Day, new music you haven’t heard, but you’ll want to hear it again.