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Reba on Social Media and Streaming: 'I Don't Know If I Would Make It Now'

Reba McEntire
Robby Klein

Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire always felt she had to hit certain milestones in her career: star in a hit TV show, perform on Broadway, record a duets album with pop stars like Kelly Clarkson and Justin Timberlake (which hit No. 1). But for her upcoming 29th studio album, the country superstar had only one objective. “I wanted to record music that made me happy,” says McEntire, 64, “without worrying where it would or wouldn’t get played.” After all, with 16 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, 24 Billboard 200-charting albums (two of them reached the top) and three Grammy Awards, she no longer has anything to prove.

Stronger Than the Truth, McEntire’s sixth project for Big Machine Records that will arrive April 5, marks a return to the Oklahoma native’s roots. “It’s true to who I am and how I grew up,” says McEntire of the traditional country project, which is a departure from her 2017 Christian collection Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. (There’s even a tune called “No U in Oklahoma.”) The 12-track album that she co-produced includes the boot-stomping “Storm in a Shot Glass” and heart-wrenching ballads like “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain,” which details a troubled relationship, and standout “Cactus in a Coffee Can,” about an orphan who meets her drug-addicted birth mother too late in life.

McEntire says Big Machine, which signed her in 2008, has never resisted embracing the new ways artists can promote music, including social media. Earlier in March, McEntire tweeted a video to her 2.3 million followers in which she impersonated Cardi B’s “Okurrr” catchphrase to tease new music. “Technology has changed everything,” says McEntire. “Everything is faster, and in many ways, easier than it was when I was starting out. But on the other hand, because it’s so much faster, artists don’t get as much time to develop. If I was starting out now, I don’t know if I would make it.” Her advice for anyone trying to have a career like hers? “Be different, stand out, and work your butt off.”

This article originally appeared in the March 30 issue of Billboard.


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