Sitting in the kitchen of a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Reba McEntire is comfortable-comfortable to talk about her successful and long-running multimedia career, comfortable to talk about her upcoming album of duets and comfortable in her jeans. That's "her jeans" as in the jeans she designs and wears, not the jeans she owns, although on this early September afternoon they are one and the same.
The dark blue, slim-fitting jeans with a slightly flared leg are part of her Reba clothing line, which she launched in 2005 with Dillard's department stores. And while we're here to discuss her successful balance of career and family life, and her new duets album-on Sept. 18 she will release "Reba Duets," featuring Kenny Chesney, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Don Henley and other A-listers-it's clear she is as passionate for design as she is for music, acting and family.
Indeed, McEntire has a lot of passions. Whether it was her highly choreographed shows replete with multiple costume changes, or her 2001 foray onto Broadway as Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun," or her "aw, shucks" job as frequent host of the Academy of Country Music Awards, or her six-year role as single mom Reba Hart on Twentieth Century Fox-produced "Reba" that finally came to a close in February, McEntire's career has spanned many peaks.
Fashion is only one of the most current, but in McEntire's rise to mastering that world lies a key to understanding her career. "It was a quick education," McEntire says. "All my life I'd worn hand-me-downs. When I was in 'Annie Get Your Gun' in 2001 I went to one of those fashion shows and a reporter [asked me], 'Who's your favorite designer?' I said, 'Levi?' Now I can spout off the designers. I know who's hot and who's had trouble and who's had a comeback and how they turned their business around and why."
Humility, and hard work: Through the years the Oklahoma-born McEntire has transformed herself from a rodeo rider to a singer to an entertainer to an actress and to a star of stage and screen, all the while anchoring her multifaceted career with her music and her family (see story, page 31). One does not attain single-name status in the music world by happenstance. It takes hard focus, consistency and, oh, hits. Just ask Dolly, Madonna and Cher.
At 52, McEntire's career spans 31 years. Her first Mercury single, "I Don't Want to Be a One Night Stand," peaked at No. 88 in 1976. And today, McEntire is right back in familiar territory: atop the charts (see graphic, below). The first single from her upcoming album, a duet with Clarkson on the latter's 2006 AC hit "Because of You," recently peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
Click here for more on McEntire's upcoming duets album, UMG Nashville's marketing and new media strategies in place for the album, McEntire's contribution to the marketing process and the artist's thoughts on her future with MCA and a full-blown tour .