See The National Anthem Performance That Launched Reba McEntire’s Career
Reba McEntire didn’t become a country music superstar by accident. It took hard work, some encouragement from her momma, and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time.
The third of four children born to Clark and Jacqueline McEntire, Reba and her siblings were encouraged to sing from a young age. While traveling as a family to watch Clark compete in rodeos, Jacqueline taught her children to sing and harmonize, a pastime that resulted in the formation of The Singing McEntires.
Three of the McEntire siblings (Reba, Pake and Susie) traveled and performed until Pake graduated from high school. In 1973, after graduating high school herself, Reba continued her education at Southeastern Oklahoma State University where she majored in elementary education and minored in music.
Even though she was a full-time college student, Reba was close enough to home to help out at the family ranch and stay connected with her father’s rodeo career. One year into college, McEntire had the opportunity to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, a gig she had for a few years until she was discovered by country singer Red Steagall.
Reba, Pake, Susie and their mother met with Stegall at a hotel a few days after he first heard Reba’s anthem performance. At the hotel, Reba sand an a cappella version of Dolly Parton’s “Joshua” for Steagall. Afterward, Jacqueline asked Steagall if he could get her kids a recording contract.
Steagall returned to Nashville and later contacted Jacqueline to say, “I can’t take all three. But I could take Reba. She’s got something a little different.” As they say, “The rest is history.”
A video of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” performance that changed Reba McEntire’s life was aired on CMT Giants in 2006.
Reba McEntire was honored during a 2-hour concert special that aired on CMT as the first of their CMT Giants series. The special, filmed at Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, featured performances from guests such as Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles.
But, one of the highlights of the night, next to Reba’s performance of her mega-hit “Fancy,” was when footage played of Reba singing the national anthem before she was a star.
In the clip, a roughly 20-year-old Reba belts out the familiar lyrics, her accent and voice distinguishable even then. After listening to her performance at the National Finals Rodeo it’s no wonder that Red Steagall saw something special in the red-headed barrel racer with a voice of gold.
Watch the video of the performance that set Reba on a path to superstardom below.