Reba McEntire's Gift from God

The country music artist and actor almost didn't pursue a singing career. Read her inspiring story to find out why she changed her mind.

By Reba McEntire, Nashville, Tennessee

As appeared in

It was a beautiful spring morning when Mama and I set off from our ranch in Oklahoma for Nashville, where I was going to audition for a recording contract. I was 20 years old, well-prepared vocally, ready to take a chance on the dream of a lifetime.

But as the hillsides rolled by, resplendent with the whites and pinks of dogwood and redbud blossoms, I felt a creeping uneasiness. The closer we got to the country music capital, the more I tried to prolong the trip, making Mama detour for some sightseeing, then for a snack, then for anything I could think of. Finally I yelled, "Stop!" and Mama pulled the big blue Ford into a Dairy Queen on the side of the highway and we went inside.

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As I toyed with my mountain of ice cream, I didn't have to explain I was scared. Mama knew me too well. "Reba Nell," she said, adding the Nell for gentle emphasis, "we can turn around right now and go on back home if that's what you want, and I'll understand. The music business is not for everyone."

I looked at Mama across the melting swirl of my sundae. She wasn't pushing me. But when she was my age, Mama would have given just about anything to have had the opportunity I was getting a chance at now. I wondered if that was what was confusing me.

We'd always had a special bond. Maybe it was because of my singing. Music had gone way back in Mama's life. But right out of high school she had to take a teaching job, working in a two-room schoolhouse. Then she married, worked as an assistant to the school superintendent, and did all the bookkeeping on our ranch while raising four kids.

Mama and I were middle kids, both the third of four children. Being a middle kid, I was always looking for attention. I was a tomboy, doing everything my older brother, Pake, did. "Anything you can do I can do better!" was our sibling motto, whether it was throwing rocks and doing chin-ups, or riding horses and roping. I was out to be the best, to get the attention. Then I learned to sing.

I remember in the second grade, my music teacher, pretty Mrs. Kanton, helped me learn "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. When I went home and sang it for Mama, her eyes met mine and just sort of glowed. It tickled me to think I could make Mama react like that, and to hear adults say that I was gifted.

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That's what my grandmother—Mama's mother and my namesake—used to say when I was growing up. But she called it a special gift, a gift from God. I was almost as close to her as I was to Mama. Grandma used to take me fishing at a pond on her place. We never did catch much, but we liked to throw in our lines and sit on the pond dam while Grandma told stories, mostly from the Bible. She told me about David, Moses and Daniel, and the special gifts that God had given them, like courage and leadership and prophecy. In fact, David was a songwriter.

I probably learned as much of my Bible going fishing with Grandma as I did in Sunday school. She taught me gospel songs and hymns so I could sing to her. "Reba," she'd say, "God gives all of us our own special gifts, and he's given you yours for a reason. Now you have to learn to use it."

The cherry was sliding down the whipped cream peak on my sundae. I looked outside at the glowing Dairy Queen cone rotating slowly, almost as if it were sitting on a record turntable. Mama was nursing a cup of coffee and watching the traffic flash by. She was not about to rush me.

We'd spent many an hour on the road together. Grandpap and Daddy were champion steer ropers. Summers we'd all go with Daddy on the rodeo circuit. We had a two-horse trailer that was so heavy all four of us kids had to stand on the back of it so Daddy could pull the nose up and hitch it to the Ford. Then we'd pile into the backseat and take off for rodeos in Wyoming and Colorado. We'd play road games, like counting mile markers or Volkswagens. We'd see who could spot the most out-of-state license plates.

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Then someone struck up a song and everybody joined in. Mama coached. She kept us on pitch and taught us how to harmonize. If the lyrics got lost in the jumble, she announced, "Okay, stop. Reba Nell, enunciate. Now go ahead." One word would do it. That was the schoolteacher coming out in her.

Country-music star Reba McEntire continues her successful recording career and also acts in films and on TV. She even has her own clothing line!

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Your Comments (32)

"Draw a graph made up of at least five line segments to represent the events in a story. Make sure you label the horizontal and vertical axes.".

Wish GOD would have put us together. LOVE YOU SWEETHEART!
Mitch

God surely does shine through you with your beautiful voice.
Can hardly wait to hear you with thousands of others singing
in heaven. See you there.

I was so impressed with you on the Cruise Dec. 1985 and was so happy to get to talk to you. Ricky Skaggs was there too. Keep up the great work and sing forever.
Marilyn Coffey 77 years young.

It is so good to hear you have God in your life. Your the best in Country music

LOVE you Christmas record that God comes to your home

you are such a wonderful person. I've never talked to you and yet I fell like your and old friend. God has moved you to help others in so many ways. You have drawn from your own gifts to make us laugh tell our sides ached you have made us cry from just hearing your songs and relating to your words, but most of all I respect you for being just yourself,Gods wonderful gift to all of us. May God Bless you and your family always.
Pam Vian,Surprise AZ

Reba, i have lived on both sides if your story, the kid afraid to go the whole way with her talents and the mother waiting with the child who is deciding whether to go for it. You recall your mother as firm but not impatient with your hesitancy. This is privileged moment for any teacher or parent to be in that pause that lets you hear yourself and hear God. Thanks thanks thanks for sharing!

Greetings Reba, After reading your story and the kudos on this comment page I have to agree they are all right. You are a great lady and have a wonderful voice. We loved your TV show and I also loved the part where you are singing to the 'grandbaby'. It almost seems like the baby is your real grandchild. I cry every time I see that episode. Can't wait for your new show. We love you.

Hi Reba ;), reading about you excited me so much. I knew you were a Christian. I always knew and I really do. I have always loved you and I love watching your programs. I have seen all your episodes and I never get tired of them,they still make me laugh. God did bless you and you sure do shine for Him, Reba. For me to see it and know in my heart. God told me in my heart. I was always wondering if u were married and now I know and you have a handsome son. God bless you and your family. One day we will meet in heaven,maybe sooner then we think. Your loved very much can't wait to see you in the new show. I love you my sister in Christ. God be with you. :D sincerely
. Fidelis.

Reading your article about Reba brought tears to my eyes. I have always enjoyed hearing her sing but realizing how she might not have done this truly inspired me. I am a singer but never reached the potential that Reba has. I know that God is in my life & when a person who approaches you after you have sung a song in church & tells you that it made an impact on their life my heart swelled & I knew I was exactly where God needed me to be. Thanks again for the wonderful article & all the articles that appear in Guide Posts.
God Bless Barb :)

Reba, You have always been an inspiration to me. You went to basketball camp with my wife in 1970. She remembers you fondly and loves your music. Keep depending on God. He always takes you further than you want to go. God loves you and you ARE an inspiration to many. I am a singer myself and have sung since I was four. Now, I sing for the Lord in church and am a lay-music director.

I have been a fan of Reba's since I was 16 years old! I have 47 of her albums, a promotional poster for her duets album, 12 reba outfits, Richmond bedding (reba line), Keep On Loving You Tour shirt, All The Women I am Tour shirt, My story and Comfort from a country quilt. Lastly, I have a poster I made that says: WILL SING 4 HUGS! I <3 U Reba!! I have never seen her in concert before, but some day I hope to!!! I love watching her sit com Reba!! it's funny and very down to earth!!! She's a classic!!!

My husband and I have been Reba fans forever so reading this article and the other one was a must for me. I teared up as I thought of my own grandmothers and their influences in my life. I thank God for them, and am so thankful for the opportunity to have been able to hear Reba doing what she does best, both on the radio, in person and on tv. Mostly, I liked the reminder that I'm doing my best for my grandchildren. My grandson and I just has a conversation about using our talents, the gifts that God has given us. He was so wise beyond his 10 years as he told me what he thought my talent was ("you like to make stuff for people, like the special dinosaur card you made me...I really liked that" and what he thought his was (running...I really like to run...that's my talent and I'm going to use it for God".
May God bless you Reba, and may you always be willing to listen.

I also had a gift and was using it in the church choir. than due to the comma and the tube down my throat I lost my gift. I am now searching for another gift. your story is inspirational and I enjoy watching you on t.v. cant wait till malibu country starts Nov 3rd......it is a great birthday present for me.

My Comment Is about the Great Reba McEntire I just wanted to say I have enjoyed reading her story I am A very big fan I have most of her cds and love her series I relate to here alot such A great artist ,and Reba your grandma and mom were right you are one of A kind.

Love you
Tina in Mich,

Reba, thanks for being so grounded in everything you do, I know that you had loving parents that supported you all the way to Nashville, & I also know you were respectfull enough to listen to them some of us didn't have that in our lives.You bonded with God & you are the epitomy of what christanity teaches us!!! Love your records, your tv shows, ( I dont get the station your on now though), but I listen to the country station when I'm cooking & a lot of your musis videos are on there, I buy your albums,as well.
Don't ever stop being you, your music is a God given gift to my ears. Blessings to you & your family & I look farward to catching one of your tours, I live in a little town about 30 miles south of St. Louis...called Festus, mo. I will be 62 this wednesday...08/29/50 & hope I catch a few of your tunes on the country station...that will make my day!!!!!...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Reba!!! It is an inspiration to many, just as you are and always will be to me and so many others!! I'm so glad you chased that dream!! Much love to you!!!

How wonderful that you have followed Our Lord's Plan for your life. So many don't and are always searching for Real Love, Joy, Peace, and Happiness; that can Only be found in Christ. May our Lord continue to Bless you, Dear One!!!

HI REBA
I WISH YOUR MOTHER WOULD HAVE SUNG WITH YOU ON YOUR SHOWS ON TV SO WE COULD OF HEAD HER AS WELL I'M SURE SHE HAS A LOVELY VOICE ALSO MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU JESSIE

You may not be a winner in the race but if you do the best you know how, God will honor you. That is such good advice. I need to act on that myself. I have gifts which I need to use. Time is running out for me, I'm 88 and have feared failure ---- how do I know; I haven't even tried. It isn't too late --- yet.

Thank you, Reba, for sharing your story. I feel that the Lord has called me to be a singer, too. It's brokenness heart more than a handful of times, but when I open up & let my heart come & sing, I feel the weight of the world leave me. I feel like your story was God's way of speaking to me to not give up. Thank you again.

Thank God for your mother's patience on that day. You do have a gift Reba and a beautiful voice. You can act too. I Love your music.

Reba, you have always been an inspiration to me. Even though I never got to finish following my dream and using my God-given gift of singing, I SO understand needing and longing to do so. It's funny, you wanted to be Dolly and I wanted to be YOU! lol At 52, I guess I never will be. I just wish I'd had the chance to be ME.

It's never to late to follow your dream. Just look at Susan Boyle who competed on Britain's Got Talent at the age of 48. She didn't win but has gone on to have a successful career as a singer. I gave up art over 30 yrs ago. Now at the age of 48, I'm going back to college to pursue an art degree graduating with my last degree 19 yrs ago. There are days I question my decision but I know this is what God is directing me to do, so I'm trusting Him to help me do it. If you still want to sing then, SING! The only thing standing between you and your dreams is YOU! Trust God and step out on faith. You can do it!

That is a great story, very inspirational. My grandma was like your mom always wanted for us to be and do the best we could. I love your shows thanks for the laughs.....sometimes when I am down I tune to your show and you brighten my day. God Bless you.

What a beautiful story! I really needed to read something about chasing your dreams and having faith in Him while you do so.

As Cousin Eddy said on the CHRISTmas Vacation movie, "If that cat had 9 lives, she just spent 'em all." We need to be sure we are using all the gifts GOD gave to us before we end up like that cat, each and every darn day!!! If we do, we will make ourselves and our families proud, but more importantly; we will be Honoring GOD, the one that gave us all gifts and sent HIS Son to die for us! Go out there and get 'em and use your GOD given gifts to the fullest!

ThanX God.
<3
“...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 1:6, NIV
+

Oh how I love this story, I love to watch your show Reba. You are so gifted spiritually. I love the episode in your t.v. show where your grandchild is born. After the birth, the other grandma is screaming out religiously. Yet, you Reba just gently pick up your new grandchild with so much compassion and strength, gentleness and love, just so much Jesus in you and your voice. It was so amazing to watch the Spirit move as you gently and softly sing a sweet spiritual lullaby type song that touches my Spirit as I can See it touching your new grandchilds Spirit as well.
I also love your hair. The haircolor you have is gorgeous as you are!
Thanks for shareing your gifts. You are a sweet personality to watch, to look up after, listen too. Yet you are also a very strong women spiritually in how you touch others lives through your God given voice.
Blessings always,
Kim Item@ KimItemMinistries

Your story of pursuing your dream has encouraged me to enter the Guidepost magazine writing contest. I am afraid of being rejected but have been told I'm a gifted writer and that my stories can encourage others. So I'm going to go for it! Thanks, Reba.

I liked your story it was amazing and im glad you went with your dreams... I really don't know what I want to do in this life of mine. Im a junior in Central High school and it is tough being the oldest at the home I'm in. I have do things in a certian way and everyone looks up to me like im the only one they do. But I do understand how it is for you to always look for attention because I am the oldest the younger ones get all the attention.

This was so inspirational .