Reba McEntire says there’s a difference between being nervous about a gig and excited, and excitement best describes the anticipation leading up to opening night of her Caesar’s Palace residency. “Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together in Vegas” kicked off last night (June 17) and continues through July 4, and then resumes in December.
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“I won’t be as nervous as I will be so anxious to get out there and perform,” Reba told Billboard prior to opening night. “It’s going to be a good show. I know it is. I feel it in my bones. Everybody feels good about it. We love it, but that’s not saying after we get under the lights and onto the huge stage we don’t change a few things, but for now we’re at a good place with it.”
Reba says the most challenging part of putting the show together was fitting in as many hits as possible. “Ronnie [Dunn], Kix [Brooks] and I have been in the rehearsal studio and we’ve been going over the songs and the hardest part was trying to figure out which songs because we both have a pretty good extensive catalogue,” says the Country Music Hall of Famer, who has logged 35 No. 1 singles and recently debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart with her latest collection, Love Somebody. “I think we really have picked out the best ones and we’ve rearranged a few things. We’ve got a show that we really do like.”
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Instead of separate performances, Reba says the show is a collaborative affair. “We’re coming out together and ending together, and just floating in and out in between. I didn’t want it to be them 30 minutes, then me 30 minutes. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be out there with them, and sing with them. They didn’t mention singing with me, but I told them that’s the way it was going to be, so that’s the way it was,” she laughs.
“We put our bands together and we have 10 musicians and the crew was in there working hard, making sure all the sound equipment and everything was right and they’ve been in rehearsals since the 15th of May. Ronnie, Kix, and I came in around the 21st and went through six or seven songs, and then we came back in on the 26th and then we really started running it the 29th, 30th, and 31st, running the show completely through.”
The Oklahoma native says she’s happy to be performing with longtime friends Brooks & Dunn. “It means a lot to me. I don’t think I’d have nearly as much fun by myself,” she says. “We love to be around each other. We are three different people, different as night and day. I loved the tour with Kelly Clarkson and now to get to do this with Kix and Ronnie, it just brings a variety in. There’s no chance of being bored.”
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Though Reba has been performing in Vegas since 1982, this is the first time she’s had her own residency. “The only time I’ve done that is at the Las Vegas Hilton when Barry Manilow was coming in and out, I’d take some of his dates,” she relates. “They called it a residency and I was there for 15 shows. That was in 2008.”
When asked what appealed to her about the Caesar’s gig, she enthusiastically responds, “Everything! The world comes to us and they are traveling many miles to come see us, so that makes us feel pretty special and also we don’t have to pack up and move every night. We used to play four shows a week in different cities and we had 21 trucks. My crew was the best in the world and I am just so proud of them. They hardly ever miss a beat. They are so good and they care so much. I just walk out of my room, go down the elevator, go onto the stage, ready to go.”
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In addition to the Vegas shows, Reba has select dates booked throughout the summer and fall in support of Love Somebody. “I was really thrilled and tickled to death from all the response that everybody has given me,” she says of the chart-topping album. It’s all positive, very good and I couldn’t be happier. No complaints.”