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Reba McEntire on Her Nearly Four-Decade Career: 'Nothing Has Really Changed Except the Industry'

Reba McEntire
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Reba McEntire visits SiriusXM Studios on April 13, 2015 in New York City.

On Tuesday (April 14), Reba McEntire released Love Somebody, her first album since 2010's All The Woman I Am and also her debut for Nash Icon Records after releasing her past two projects for The Valory Music Co.

How does it feel to be Scott Borchetta's choice to launch the new label? "It feels great to be the flagship artist for Nash Icon," McEntire told Billboard. "I was honored and very thrilled to be able to record new music, and flattered that they asked me."

A McEntire tradition, the set features many songs about breakups and heartbreak, such as "Until They Don't Love You." "I think if you haven't had your heart broken, you're about 6 months old," she says. "Everybody has had their heart broken in one way or another, and everybody can relate to it. That hurts the most and that feeling really stands out until it heals. Then, you get your heart broken again, and you have to wait a little longer to heal. Singing the sad songs is just more relatable."

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The positive love songs have been harder for McEntire to find -- that's why her ears perked up instantly when she heard "Promise Me Love." "I'll never forget when [former MCA promotion exec and head of Decca] Sheila Biddy was going to get married, and she said, 'Reba, I tried to find one of your songs to put in the wedding, but I couldn't find one. I'm sorry,'" she remembers with a laugh. "Sometimes, I have tried to make a conscious effort to sing more romantic songs, but they just didn't touch my heart at the time. That's what has to happen with me: A song has to touch my heart with some kind of emotion, and that way when I sing it, you'll feel that emotion too, hopefully."

Those emotions are heard front and center on "Enough," which features Jennifer Nettles. "That was wonderful," she told Billboard of the experience. "She is so talented, but I had no idea how incredible of a vocalist she was until she got in there and started singing harmony on the song. It's really rangy, and she hit every note. It was just pure. I got chills. She's great."

Of course, releasing new music means getting back out on the road and re-establishing herself at radio. She says she's up to the challenge. "I am a very completive person. That hasn't changed in all these years. When Scott asked me about doing another album, I thought, 'Oh yeah! The fun begins again.' The process is the same as it's always been -- you try to find the greatest songs you can that touch my heart."

Though there have been many technological advancements since she made her first album in 1976, the heart of the recording process is still the same. "Nothing has really changed much except the industry. Everything is faster. There's more social media. Technology has advanced drastically. People can hear the music in more ways. I'm playing catch-up to learn all I can about what is going on. I'm having the time of my life with it."

The album's first single, "Going Out Like That," is making an impact at radio, sitting at No. 28 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The singer recently filmed a video for the song, which is making waves on CMT and GAC. "The video was a lot of fun to make," she says. "We shot it out in Los Angeles. Basically, I was there for a very short time compared to the way we used to do it, where we would have a four-day shoot. This was a very short and leisurely day, getting to sing a song I absolutely love. So far, we've been getting great response from it."

Along with the album, McEntire has also gotten involved with Outnumber Hunger, a cause that has become very close to her heart. "It's a program that I am very pleased to get to lend my celebrity status to. It's helping to feed America. I didn't know that one out of six Americans are going hungry. I had no idea. It's so easy to be a part of. I'm also on the front of Cheerios, so when you buy a box with my picture on it, you'll turn it over, and there's a code. Go to OutnumberHunger.com and type that code in, and you can help buy meals for hungry Americans."

Music fans can experience the special Reba and Friends Outnumber Hunger concert event -- headlined by Reba with additional performances from Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Eli Young Band and Maddie & Tae -- beginning April 17 with televised broadcasts on CMT and local Gannett TV affiliates, as well as through an exclusive radio broadcast featured on all iHeartMedia country stations across the nation and via the iHeartRadio app. Visit OutnumberHunger.com for your local listings.

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