Reba McEntire is about to hit the comeback trail. The Country Music Hall of Fame member signed a new recording pact earlier this morning with Nash Icon Music, a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group and Cumulus Media -- for which the prolific McEntire will be the flagship artist. BMLG's Scott Borchetta, who has worked with the singer for well over two decades at MCA and Valory, told Billboard that he is excited to partner up with McEntire once again.
"We've been able to create a brand new platform that arguably was custom made for her," he said of the Nash Icon label and brand. "I'm thrilled. We've been together since 1991, except for a stretch where I left to start Big Machine, and I got her to come join us. Having her back in the family and so excited about new music is like a dream come true."
McEntire said that she has recorded 11 songs for the project, with six already finished, and James Stroud and Tony Brown acting as producers. The singer admits that the recording process has changed immensely since recording her first album for Mercury Records in 1976.
"It's faster," she says. "With the technology nowadays and our engineers being so incredible, you can say 'I want to sing that,' and they're ready, or then 'I want to sing it again,' and they're ready. There are overdubs, you can comp it and you can make it just right." However, McEntire stressed to The 615 that she's never wanted to be -- or is planning on being -- flawless. "One thing we are sticklers about is keeping the emotion -- not to make it perfect. I want it to feel heartfelt -- lots of soul with it."
She feels that she landed some incredible material for her debut for the label. "We've got the greatest writers in the world here in Nashville. It's such a huge thrill for me to have this outlet to get these songwriters' stories out to the public. I'm the conduit from their heart and soul to the fans. We've got happy, sad, slow, fast songs. We've got a drinking song in there, and for the first time in a long time, we've got a to the heart and soul love song. I don't have many of those, so I'm really tickled."
McEntire, who last topped the chart in 2010 with "Turn On The Radio," is continually held as an influence on many of the female vocalists on the radio today. Though she says that number overall is too small. It is time for female vocalists in the genre to make a surge, she says, admitting that music business trends are often cyclical.
"There was a time when contemporary music was really popular, then here comes traditional music," says McEntire. "The girls took over, and now it's the boys taking over. I think it's time for the girls to come back in a little stronger. I made a comment 'When is it going to get back to a point that you hear two female's songs in a row on radio. You'll hear one female and then ten men. I would love for it to get more equal or heavier on the females. It's time for the girls to come back. We need more females in this business."
The singer knows that in addition to the current landscape of artists, she will also draw comparisons to her own legendary career and past successes. How does she focus on being her best in 2014? She says it's all about the songs -- and hard work, two McEntire hallmarks. "The way I compete is in trying to find the best songs possible, and if they stand up, then we've done our job -- and if they don't, then we need to work harder. That's something I've never been afraid of -- is to try harder. When I see where I've failed, I don't let it beat me up, I take it as constructive criticism, go forward, and try to improve on that."