Reba's Guide to Life

The country music superstar shares the life secrets she learned from her role model and namesake.

By Reba McEntire, Nashville, Tennessee

As appeared in

Sometimes people ask me for advice. “Reba, which song should I record?” “How do I get started in the music business?” “Do you think my teenager is ever going to lose that attitude?” (The answer to that last one, by the way, is yes, so hang in there.) If I could summarize my best advice in one word it would be: Listen.

My grandma, my mama’s mother, Reba Estelle Brassfield, taught me a lot about listening. I’m her namesake and I adored her. I remember her braiding her long hair every night before she went to bed.

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After supper, we’d sit on the porch looking at the sunset and Grandma would take a gallon jar filled with fresh milk heavy with cream and churn it into butter. Next morning we’d slather it on her home-baked biscuits or let it melt on her blackberry cobbler.

Grandma would take us kids fishing at a pond behind her house. We’d drop our lines in the water and listen as she told Bible stories, waiting for the fish to bite. That’s where I learned about Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the whale, Joseph and his coat of many colors. And the songs she sang to me, like “Jesus Loves Me.”

But mostly she showed me how to talk to Jesus. You just said whatever was on your heart. I used to watch her get on her knees in her nightgown by her bed, braids trailing down her back. Afterward I asked her what she was doing. “Talking to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is talking to Jesus for me.”

“How do you know what he’s saying, Grandma?”

“I listen real hard. I listen to what God wants me to do. That’s the most important part of praying.”

Listening is a part of singing too, something I first discovered in church. I still have the little brown hymnbook I used as a child. Alice, Susie and I would go with Grandma and Grandpa Smith to worship at a one-room country church near our ranch in Chockie, Oklahoma.

There was a piano in the church, but most of the time, we didn’t have a piano player. Thank goodness Stella McGee could read music. Mrs. McGee would study the hymnal, call for silence, hum the pitch to the congregation and then we’d sing a cappella.

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We had to hear the right note for everyone to start together and we had to keep listening to sing the song through together. Just like Grandma’s prayers, singing involved listening as much as anything else, and all great musicians have great ears.

First grade was the beginning of my performing career. I sang “Away in a Manger” for our school Christmas program, the first time I sang behind a microphone. I loved hearing my voice soaring in the gym. I felt bigger than I was, bolder.

I was the third of four kids so it wasn’t easy to get noticed. But when I sang, people paid attention. People listened.

I kept at it, getting one solo after another, “My Favorite Things” one year, “Red Wing” the next. At the 4-H talent show when I was in fifth grade I borrowed my teacher Mrs. Mackey’s daughter’s prom dress along with a rhinestone necklace and bracelet and sang “My Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown.”

I won the Junior Individual Act division, my first trophy ever. Still, I didn’t think my voice was anything special. Singing came so natural, I guess that’s why I thought I was meant to succeed at something else, something that didn’t come so natural. That turned out to be another lesson in listening.

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Your Comments (18)

Reba, I have been a fan of yours for many years. You have one song that you sing with Brooks and Dunn that I can relate to very well and really describes my life. That song is Cowgirls Don't Cry. My father would always tell me when I was learning to ride that "Cowgirls Don't Cry" and when that song came out I had just lost my father about a year and a half earlier. Your music is really an inspiration to others in more than one way. God Bless and thank you for sharing your inspirational story. Betty Recoy Garfield Arkansas

I'm surprised Guidepost is printing articles from Reba--what with her belief in reincarnation and saying she might be Buddhist.

http://voices.yahoo.com/reba-mcentire-reveals-belief-reincarnation-20722...

Children do not always appreciate their grandparents. My Mother is 98 years old and lives with me. The rest of her children and grandchildren rarely come to see her. My children see her more than any of them, but not as much as they probably should.
I think about how much they are missing in these last days, even though she can no longer speak, she can hear what you are telling her.

I pray that God will take her home so that she can be whole again.

Granny"
in remembrance of Sallie Ann Parker Land Wafford
12-30-1891 to 11-30-1978

I remember my Granny. Graying hair, stoutly built, determined and full of godly wisdom. What an impact she made on my life.

I remember Granny's home , an older home with chandeliers, french doors, fireplaces accompanying each bedroom and the living room, yet humbly furnished. As a child, I spent countless weekends an
d summer vacations there.

I remember playing games with my two younger sisters on the big front porch. In an heated argument over 'who's turn, next', Granny would step in.

'Now, now,' she'd say, 'sisters shouldn't fight, but love one another. That's the way God likes it'.

I remember Granny's questions. 'Did you go to Sunday School last week?' Also her instructions. 'Don't forget to say your prayers tonight.'

Then came growing up, falling in love, getting married and starting a family. Caught up in my own world, Granny was gradually pushed aside, except for an occasional phone call ( I didn't learn to drive until I was thirty).

How unappreciative of me. This woman invested time, sowing seeds and cultivating God's love within my heart. She'd given me her best, a gift I'd cherish a lifetime.

Granny is gone now. I think of her often.I miss her. At times when hit by life's toughest I long to talk with her again.

However, her teachings remain. I can talk to the God my Granny knew. The God, she loved and trusted so. The God, I also choose to trust.

How fortunate I am to have been blessed with such a grandmother. Her love for me and her God lives on within my heart. Somehow, I think Granny planned it that way.

e

Reba,
I loved your story of being with your Grandma.
I, too, am blessed with countless hours with my grand-daughters....
"Jesus loves me" is the first song I remember learning and loving.
Like you...I sang "My Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown"...in my one and only singing performance as a child. I still have the precious little blue dress that I wore for that performance.
My grand-daughter loves to play Princess Kate in that gown today....even though I have to pin it up and tie it with ribbons to make it fit.
and
My Grandma, Nannie, would take us kids to church every Sunday morning...I thank her for that beautiful gift.
I love you,your music and your tv show.
Gold Bless You, always...Thanks for sharing your talent with us.
Dian

Reba,

Thank you for your songs it really touches my heart,and they helps me through a rough time in my life. You a great young lady and i really adore you, and keeping God in oyur life that is so great.

The song somebody Should Leave it really touch my heart. It reminded me of my child hood and what i went through with my parents. But i still love them. You are amazing lady. And you have a great voice.

May God Bless you and your family.

Reba you are an amazing woman, and your music has seen me thru the dark parts of my life. For that thank you. My kids grew up knowing that you are my favorite singer and hey know all your songs as well. Some day I hope to meet you. I have all 6 seasons of Reba show and the DVDs are wearing out told kids I want new ones for christmas may god keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Reba, I am a fan who loves your GODly spirit. When you sing and smile I see the JOY of the LORD in you! And I am encouraged by your songs that touch souls. Being a child of GOD means that we try to seek GOD in everything, good and bad. With this being such a perilous time, it is truly a blessing to hear from your heart the love that GOD has given you. It blesses and encourages and directs those who are seeking answers to keep their hope alive and upward. Real songs for everyday people. Thank you for following your heart and blessing others.

Reba, You have been a favorite of mine for such along time. I love to here you sing, and always wondered how many children you had and your real life style. You are so down to earth, you do not have to do anything but just be u. My husband ook me to Greensboro when you were there a couple of years ago with George Strait, He is a fan to, no man could ever wear a pair of wranglers like him. My husband actually got alittle jealous.. I have red hair, but he was not partically fond of red on me ,so I highlighted it for him. I stil recrd your shows and watch them. You are the great Reba in my book, never could figure out why Brock left you for Barbara Jean. Oh well, I know you probably think my name is a prank to, but GOD put my husband and I together by a blind date. He knew exactly that we needed each other. I will never believe any different. Love you Reba, I also wish you would make a CD of the old hymns that
our grandma's and moms taught us. This world today needs to step back a few steps and really listen to our GOD and the
heavenly hymns, and pray, pray ,pray.

Reba, I don't think there is anything you can't do. I have listened to you sing for forever. Susie sang at Cowboy Church several years back and we really enjoyed her as well. Your TV show dealt with so many real situations and made us all feel less like failures. I lost my husband March 1st of this year and have struggled with so many emotions. Your songs just plain make me feel better. Thanks Reba...you are one of a kind. God Bless you and yours.

Thank you Reba for showing us you can be a great singer and still look to God for the answers. I would love if you put out a christian album. You are a blessing to so many.

Reba you have indeed been blessed with a wonderful voice! Thank you for sharing Gods gift with all of us. If we would all learn from living the world would be a wonderous school! God bless you and your family!

I thought that your story was very touching and it made me thing of my Granddaughter she was in 4 H and raised her horse and when you say listen horses that is what her horse did listened to what she was told to do and just did it,now she is 22 and was going to sell him but went to the fair and changed her mind,she is getting married 11-17-12 and she is very happy. Like you I think she listen ,as you turned out to be a very lovley lady .

Ilove this story!!! I love to hear Reba sing and play in the movies. She is great!!!

Reba is the only celebrity I have ever wanted to meet. Some day i will she is the sweetest most talented lady I have ever seen.

Thank-You Reba for your little story here, It's nice to know that some people in the profession are in fact listening to all of what may be. And you followed a path I know all to well to be real, Not only does it feel like she's with you, She actually is. :-). I feel our ancestors watch over and take care of us on a daily basis, There can be no other explanation.

well reba my grandson is 11 started piano 2 years ago and now plays by ear and self taught im so proud of him and hopes he keeps it up.

A much better education about life than attending school for twelve years. My gosh we should all be rocket scientist with that many years in school sitting on our rear end. Instead it's just the opposite. Want to teach someone about life teach them how to farm or at the very least how to grow and take care of a garden. Thank you for sharing. Richard Gross
Hot Springs, Arkansas.