There’s no denying Reba McEntire is the queen of country. The “You Lie” singer has sold more than 56 million albums across the globe and put 35 singles in the top spot. She’s acted on television in her own sitcom (Reba), in movies, and on Broadway in Annie Get Your Gun. In addition to her standing as a Grand Ole Opry member and an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, last year she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. And in an article for True West Magazine, McEntire reflected on her incredible life– and shared the amazingly insightful life lessons she has learned thus far.
Never Underestimate the Value of Hard Work
Reba McEntire didn’t have an easy time early in life. Though her family was close-knit, they lived on a ranch. In fact, both her father and her grandfather were champion steer ropers. That meant long hours of physical labor. It also meant quite a bit of time on the road following the rodeo circuit. So McEntire was no stranger to hard work.
As she recalled, “On the family ranch, my first duty was driving for Daddy while he put hay out. He’d put a 50-pound sack of feed on the seat, and either Susie or I would get up on the seat, on top of the sack, he’d put it in Granny gear and then hop out. He’d say, “Just stay straight and stay off the rocks.” And he would hop in the back and throw the hay off to the cattle.”
And those were just some of her duties. But in later interviews, she would reflect that those experiences are what made her so willing to work hard in the music business. Because without such a worth ethic, success is unlikely.
Know How to Handle Yourself
In addition to the value of hard work, Reba McEntire also learned self-sufficiency growing up. In her world, people had to know how to fix things, how to handle emergencies, and how to get things done. So you had to know how to handle yourself.
“Getting into the music business was easy for me, because I was a singer, but I also knew how to handle things,” she recalled. “I’ll never forget, one time, the van guys were trying to hook the trailer up to the truck and they couldn’t get it backed up. I said, “Hop out,” and I backed it up just directly over the trailer hitch. Hopped back out, and let them finish up. I didn’t say a word.”
Be a Person of Your Word
Reba McEntire has often joked that she is one of the only punctual people in the music industry. But that is just how her parents raised her. In her article, she discussed how her father instilled these values in her.
“My daddy taught me to be dependable,” she shared. “You do your job, you work hard, and when someone tells you to do something, you do it. You don’t say, “Well, I’m gonna go turn the horses out later on,” and then 10 minutes later, “Hey Susie, you go do it.” You do what you say you’re gonna do, and you do what you’re told.”
Those values certainly helped others to have confidence in her, unlike some of her iconic counterparts (the late George Jones, aka No-Show Jones, comes to mind. He was often sued for not showing up to concert dates).
Don’t be Afraid to Sail Into Uncharted Waters
When Reba McEntire was growing up, there was every indication she would become a rodeo champion just like her father and grandfather. After all, she did participate in barrel racing and was quite good. “I started rodeoing at age 11. I was running barrels like my sister Alice did. Alice was the best rider and the toughest cowhand we had in the family,” McEntire shared.
So becoming a cowgirl was a pretty natural path for her life to take. But she decided to the road less traveled. As she recalled, “I finished running barrels at age 21 when I got my recording contract, thanks to Red Steagall.”
“I was a lot better singer than I was a cowgirl,” she added.
Go Where You Love
Reba McEntire isn’t afraid to find and visit the places she loves. And that’s an important life lesson. Because it teaches us that we have to create our lives, not wait for them. And so she often goes to the places that speak to her. What’s her favorite?
“My favorite spot in the American West is Jackson Hole in Wyoming. It’s just captured my heart. The women will say it does that to Southern women. I just absolutely love it,” she wrote.
An interesting aside is that it was on one of her Wyoming trips that she met her most recent boyfriend, Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo. He is a geologist who served as her guide on one of her visits there. He is also the man that accompanied her to the 2018 Grammy Awards. So Wyoming now has more than one claim on her heart. A good lesson in taking time to spend in the places that are meaningful to you.
Find Your Heroes
When Reba McEntire played Annie Oakley on Broadway, it wasn’t a role she took simply because she wanted to be on Broadway. The role resonated with her because Oakley is such a hero to her. And it’s so important to find the people that inspire us.
“Having played Annie Oakley twice, in Buffalo Girls and on Broadway, I feel a kinship to her,” McEntire reflected. “She was a special woman—had a great heart, took care of her family, loved to travel and tended to business. She was always my hero. I remember meeting Alice and Pake when they got off the bus at the cattle guard and telling ’em what went on that day on the Annie Oakley show.”
McEntire returns to Las Vegas this year to once again perform with friends and colleagues Brooks & Dunn. And there are also talks about bringing back her television show. Whatever she does next in her life will certainly be spectacular. And we can’t wait to learn from her when she does.
What is your most-cherished Reba McEntire insight into life?