Read Reba: My Story Online

Authors: Reba McEntire,Tom Carter

Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #Entertainment & Performing Arts

Reba: My Story

When onstage, I always try to take my audience through as many emotions as I possibly can. I want them to go from laughter to tears, be shocked and surprised and walk out the door with a renewed sense of themselves—and maybe a smile.

Year after year, night after night, as I’ve set out to accomplish this goal, the one tool I’ve always had has been my music.

At this moment, there is no stage, no lights, no music—no catchy lines to sing and no fancy dance steps to take. Just me, my pen, my thoughts, and a vivid memory of 39 years of my life—all the roads I’ve traveled and all the beautiful people I’ve met along this extraordinary journey. Here’s MY STORY.


Bantam hardcover edition published May 1994
Bantam paperback edition / November 1995

Grateful acknowledgment is also made for permission to quote from “If I Had Only Known.” Written by Jana Stanfield/Craig Morris. © 1992, 1991 Jana Stantunes (BMI)*/ Alabama Band Music (a division of Wildcountry, Inc.) ASCAP
*Administered by Bug Music
All Rights Reserved/Used by Permission

All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1994 by Reba McEntire.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-1466
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.

ISBN-13: 978-0-553-57238-4

ISBN-10: 0-553-57238-5

eBook ISBN: 978-0-8041-8118-1

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of The Random House Publishing Group. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, New York, New York.



“It’s not the critic who counts.… It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled.… Credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs to come up short and short again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasm and great devotion, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”



, New Jersey, when my husband and manager, Narvel Blackstock, showed me an issue of the supermarket tabloid
. “Now, Reba, try not to get upset …” he told me, but I could see that he was pretty upset himself. Usually we laugh off such gossip-mill stories—as the show-business saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But this time, the press had gone too far.

A photo of me from an awards show was plastered all over the
’s front page, and over it was printed an enormous, shrill headline “Shocking charge by two ex-wives … REBA STOLE OUR HUSBANDS.” Inside were unkind interviews with Lisa Gilbert, Narvel’s first wife, who has long since remarried after her divorce from Narvel six years ago, and Sherrie, the former Mrs. Charlie Battles, who’s been holding a grudge, apparently, even longer—for a full eighteen years, since 1975!

Why these women decided to speak out now was beyond me, and what they were quoted as saying was a hurtful exaggeration of the truth. But the truth doesn’t sell these newspapers, I guess; and when you’re a public figure, everything you do is fair game for what I might call “reinterpretation,” if I was trying to be polite.

That’s one of the reasons that I’m writing this book—to set the record straight about my marriages and other matters that have been reported inaccurately by the press. But I have some other, more compelling personal reasons, too.

The first is that I’m lucky to have had a remarkable journey through life and to have met some wonderful people along the way—some of them in my own family! My Grandpap, John Wesley McEntire, and my Daddy, Clark McEntire, are famous for their rodeo triumphs. I was raised on a ranch, which my Mama and Daddy built from forty acres at the time I was born to some seventeen thousand today, with us kids working right alongside them tending the cattle just as cowboys had done for the last hundred years. It was a family operation all the way, of a kind that is vanishing from the American landscape as ranching becomes big business and as technology is radically changing the old-fashioned cowboy ways. Recently, a Brahma bull got loose and Daddy roped him—I’ve heard him brag that he’s “lost a lot of ropin’ poise, but I could still get ’er done”; though nowadays, usually, instead of a rope he uses a tranquilizer gun.

Such advances have done a lot to ease the harshness of the ranchers’ life, and so by the time my son, Shelby, grows up, the old methods may be lost forever. Part of the reason I’m writing this book is that I want Shelby to understand what the traditional McEntire cowboy life was like.

My second reason is that I’ve had a marvelous time in the country music business and have been blessed with a thrilling degree of success. I’m proud of that since I’ve worked hard for it and I’ve had plenty of challenges to face, not the least of which was being a woman in a business that’s still largely dominated by men. Women are usually the ones who buy the concert tickets, and women naturally want to see men—who can blame them? So it makes me especially happy that women can relate to my songs, and that they seem to view me as a friend. I’m also writing it to give credit where credit is due—to the people who have helped and inspired me. I could never have done it alone.

Thirdly, I’ve had to face a terrible tragedy, and I’ve found that many people want to know what it has taught me. Those questions haven’t been easy to address, but in this book I’d like to try. Narvel says, correctly, that I was taught as a child how to pull on my inner resources in hard times and that I have never rebelled against that teaching. My personal faith in God has seen me through when nothing else could help, and my music has also been a constant source of consolation. I’m not going to try to tell anyone to do things my way. I’ll simply share what has worked for me.

If there’s anything I’ve learned it is that there’s no greater source of happiness than my family. I continue to get so much from them, emotionally and spiritually. But I’d like to tell you about a few of their more distinctly material gifts, which I will always treasure.

My brother Pake, for Christmas 1992, gave me three hours of tape-recorded interviews with Ray Williams, my Daddy’s first cousin, who knows all the McEntire history. Ray’s stories are heartwarming and hilarious, and I’m so grateful to Pake for making the tape. Imagine if those stories had been lost to us! It’s so valuable to have a record of who your ancestors were and of how they lived.

My sister Susie recently gave me my old Bible with the inscription I made when I was “saved” at age twelve. She also presented me with a pair of old basketball shoes I wore when I played high school basketball. I can’t figure out how Susie got hold of those! But she’s the thoughtful type who would, and now I have some precious mementos of my own personal history.

And back in 1979, when I was making my first tentative inroads into the music business, my sister Alice gave me—of all things—a toilet seat cover. On it were monogrammed the words “The Twinkle.” She promised that if I ever made it big, she’d give me another one labeled “The Star.” But she hasn’t yet.

That’s my reminder that I haven’t yet reached the top, that there’s still so much for me to strive for and to achieve. Alice’s gift—or lack of one, I guess you could say—shows me that, at nearly forty, I have so much more to work for in life, so much more to look forward to.

I sure can’t think of any better gift than that!


nurtured. It takes time, effort, attention, and sometimes work, but the return is way over tenfold. I’m very lucky that Narvel and I work together and that we can take Shelby with us when we want to. All the rest of my family is still in southeastern Oklahoma. I talk to them or visit them as often as I can.

My oldest sister, Alice Lynn Foran, is the county director of the Atoka, Oklahoma, Department of Human Services. She’s married to Robert and has four great kids, Vince, Garett, Trevor, and Haley, whom I love dearly. Alice is the rock, the one you can call at three in the morning, and she’ll always be ready to help in any way. The next in line, my brother Pake and his wife, Katy, run cattle on their ranch outside of Kiowa, Oklahoma. Pake’s real name is Del Stanley, but he got the nickname “Pecos Pete” before he was born. Mama and Daddy would refer to the unborn baby as Pecos Pete, and we’ve called him Pake for
short ever since. Besides ranching, Pake sells insurance and sings with his three daughters, Autumn, Calamity, and Chism, all over the country. My baby sister Martha Susan, who we call Susie, sings too and records on Integrity Music. She and her husband, Paul Luchsinger, have an evangelical ministry called Psalms Ministry, so on their tours, she sings and Paul shares his testimony, often with rodeo cowboys. Their three kids, E.P., Lucchese, and Samuel Clark, go with them a lot of the time.

My Mama, the former Jacqueline Smith, stays home most of the time now. A yearling hooked her “in the short ribs,” Daddy says, about ten years ago. Actually, Mama said, her ribs have been broken twice by steers and once when she stepped out of the pickup onto a log that rolled out from under her. “It took me two months to get over that one, and after that, I just started staying home.”

She talks to her children or grandchildren almost every day. Our love is nurtured.

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