Since releasing her first album over 40 years ago, Reba McEntire has accomplished more than most artists dream in a lifetime. The singer, songwriter, actress and awards show host has amassed a remarkable 35 No. 1 singles and sold over 56 million albums worldwide. Whether she’s juggling her singing career and a Las Vegas residency with Brooks & Dunn, or hosting the ACM Awards and plotting her next television role, McEntire does each job with class. This month, we look back at the 10 most memorable songs from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member’s career.
“Cant’ Even Get the Blues No More” – from Unlimited
The second single off her fifth studio album, “Can’t Even Get the Blues No More” was McEntire’s first No. 1 hit. Released in 1982, the song features McEntire’s smoky vocals alongside a driving beat as she channels a woman struggling after her man leaves her. A hint of what was to come from the Queen of Country, McEntire left the listener wanting more thanks to soulful backing vocalists that give the feel of a gospel choir.
“Whoever’s In New England” — from Whoever’s In New England
Another chart topper, “Whoever’s In New England” features McEntire’s powerful and poignant vocals at the forefront of the song. Portraying the role of a woman who suspects her husband is hiding something about his frequent work trips to New England, “Whoever’s In New England” solidified McEntire’s staying power within the country genre as the 1986 hit garnered the singer her very first Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
“Fancy” — from Rumor Has It
Originally a hit written and performed by Bobbie Gentry in 1969, “Fancy” was covered by McEntire in 1991. While the song only made it No. 8 on the charts, it became a staple in McEntire’s live show and throughout her career. A rags to riches tale about a young woman who beats the odds set against her, on “Fancy” McEntire’s vocal power transports the cover to a career-defining song for herself.
“The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” — from For My Broken Heart
Originally written in 1972 by Bobby Russell and sung by Vicki Lawrence, “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” was covered by McEntire and released as a single in 1992. A dark song about adultery, murder and a false conviction, a man learns from his friend Andy that his wife has been cheating on him. When he returns home to find his wife gone, he heads to his friend’s home only to find him dead. He then fires his gun to alert the sheriff but in doing so, he is mistaken for the shooter and sentenced to death by hanging. It’s not until the song’s end that we learn the song’s narrator, the man’s sister, killed both her brother’s cheating wife and Andy. Full of suspense, “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” was the inspiration behind a film of the same name starring Dennis Quaid.
“The Heart Won’t Lie” (with Vince Gill) — from It’s Your Call
The first of a series of hit duets, “The Heart Won’t Lie” features Vince Gill and has the two friends looking back on love. Originally intended as a duet for McEntire and Kenny Rogers, in an interview the singer said their vocal ranges were too different to make it work. The song went on to become McEntire’s 17th No. 1 and Gill’s third.
“Does He Love You” (with Linda Davis) — from Greatest Hits Volume 2
One of the most memorable duets within the country genre, “Does He Love You” won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration and a CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year in 1994. The tale of a love triangle, McEntire and Davis trade vocals as they reveal their feelings for the same man. Before Davis, a member of McEntire’s touring band, was featured on the song the singer was urged to recruit bigger star power like Wynonna Judd or Trisha Yearwood, both on her label at the time. Despite the suggestion, McEntire asked Davis and the song became a major hit for both singers.
“She Thinks His Name Was John” — from Read My Mind
A poignant ballad about a woman who learns she is dying from AIDS following a one-night stand, “She Thinks His Name Was John” proves McEntire’s willingness to take risks. While the song made headlines for its subject matter, it had a successful run on the charts peaking at No. 15 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1994.
“If You See Him / If You See Her” (with Brooks & Dunn) — from If You See Him
On “If You See Him / If You See Her,” McEntire shares lead vocals with Ronnie Dunn as the two old friends portray former lovers who still have feelings for each other. While Kix Brooks provides harmonies, the stirring ballad strikes a chord thanks to the emotion showcased in McEntire and Dunn’s voices. Released as a single for both acts and the lead track to their respective albums (McEntire’s If You See Him and Brooks & Dunn’s If You See Her) in 1998, it swiftly climbed to the top of the charts where it stayed for two weeks.
“Strange” — from Keep On Loving You
A kiss-off track to an ex, on “Strange” McEntire continues her legacy of female empowerment. The first single on her new label, Valory Music Co., “Strange” has McEntire moving on easily after a breakup. Instead of closing the blinds and drowning in her sorrows, she vows to live her life. “Strange” became the highest solo chart debut of McEntire’s career, entering the charts at No. 39 following her performance of it at the ACM Awards.
“Turn On the Radio” — from All the Women I Am
McEntire’s most recent No. 1 on the country charts, this 2010 hit further cemented the singer’s longevity. An anthemic track that has the singer telling an ex if he wants to hear her to simply turn on the radio, it became her 60th Top 10 single as well as her 25th No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The song’s chart status had McEntire tie Dolly Parton for most No. 1 singles by a female country artist.