Reba Gives Herself Some 'Room'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Energized by a long break from recording and touring, Reba McEntire returns Nov. 18 with the much-anticipated album "Room to Breathe."

Other than a greatest-hits project in 2001, the longtime MCA Nashville artist hasn't released an album in four years. But McEntire has hardly been taking it easy.

She followed a critically acclaimed run on Broadway starring in "Annie Get Your Gun" with her own sitcom, "Reba." Now in its third season, "Reba" is the WB network's highest-rated comedy. McEntire is the show's executive producer as well as its star.

McEntire says her long hiatus between albums was partly by design.

"The reason I named the album 'Room to Breathe' is because I needed a little room to breathe" after 25 years of nearly nonstop touring and recording, she says.

Produced by Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson, the album contains a diverse mix of songs and styles that McEntire calls "very eclectic" and "almost autobiographical."

The album's first single, "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain," is the kind of strong-woman song for which Mc-Entire is known. It got off to a quick start at radio and is No. 14 after just 10 weeks on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

"Mountain" is McEntire's 67th charting single, which includes 19 No. 1 hits. Her résumé also includes 13 platinum or multi-platinum albums and eight gold titles, certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Among the standout tracks on "Room to Breathe" are the touching "Moving Oleta," the gospel rave-up "Love Revival" and the duet with her longtime friend Vince Gill, "It Just Has to Be This Way." Other guest performers on the album are Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Linda Davis and Sonya Isaacs.

When it came time to record again, McEntire, who is not a songwriter herself, had plenty of great outside material to choose from.

"It was the greatest batch of songs that I'd ever received," she says, noting that she could have recorded a second album with all the material she had at her disposal.

Finding songs is her favorite part of the recording process. "It's like fishing in a diamond mine," she says.

But the album's diversity of styles was not planned. McEntire says she simply selected songs that touched her heart the most.

The Grammy Award-winning singer will be visible promoting the album this fall with appearances on "Access Hollywood," "CNN Headline News," "The Today Show" and "The View." She plans to tour to support "Room to Breathe" during her TV show's April-through-August hiatus next year.

McEntire will be featured on the cover of a mid-November issue of TV Guide, and an insert in that issue will direct readers to a Web site, where they can stream the audio and video for "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain" and download the single.

MCA also partnered with the WB for a sweepstakes to win dinner with the cast of "Reba." The new CD will contain contest information, which can also be found on the WB Web site.

Excerpted from the Nov. 1, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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