Reba McEntire knows it as host of the ACM Awards, but young talent leaves her in awe

Reba McEntire is nearly synonymous with the Academy of Country Music Awards, having won 16 awards since 1986 and hosted or co-hosted the show 16 times. The 59th annual awards ceremony at the Ford Center will be held at The Star in Frisco for the second consecutive year.

But she wonders if she would get a nomination if she started today.

“I doubt I’ll ever make it out of Oklahoma,” she said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where she was preparing to tape the show sound, She serves as a coach on the NBC reality show.

“The level of confidence they have is astounding,” she said of today’s young singers. “It’s like they’ve been doing this their whole lives.”

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Like fellow legend Dolly Parton, who co-hosted last year’s ACMAs, McEntire is full of self-deprecating quips delivered in a Southern accent from a cattle ranch in Chalkee, Oklahoma. A byproduct of growing up on a farm, where she had to castrate bulls.

“I’m glad I started slow,” the 69-year-old singer said of her initial move to Nashville. “I only had the No. 1 record from ’76 to ’83. I didn’t know anything about this industry, and I was taught and guided by people around me. I wasn’t thrown into the deep end of the pool.

Country music legend Reba McEntire performed before a gathering of friends, officials and media…
Country music legend Reba McEntire performs in front of friends, officials and media at the opening of her new restaurant Reba’s Place in downtown Atoka, Oklahoma on January 26, 2023.(Tom Fox/Photographer)

Slowly but surely, Reba became the country’s royalty and showbiz star.She has appeared in dozens of television shows and movies and has starred on Broadway Annie pick up your gun.

More than 40 years later, she still has fond memories of receiving her first trophies from the ACMAs and Country Music Awards (CMA).

“My mom and I have been waiting for this day for so long, hoping and praying that it would come true. I’m beyond excited!

Suffice it to say, she disagrees with the skeptics who argue that there are too many awards — in addition to the ACMAs and CMAs, there are the CMT Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Grammys, etc. — or those who refute People who understand the concept of competition.

“I have always believed that award ceremonies are the best promotion and publicity,” she said. “Being nominated and being able to sing your own songs on TV is very good for one’s career, no matter what level you’re at.”

McEntire will debut an unreleased new song, “I Can’t,” which she describes as “a strong woman’s song” at the ACMs. Other performers announced so far include Texans Post Malone, Miranda Lambert, Cody Johnson and Parker McCollum, as well as Chris Stapleton, Jason Alden, Jay Leigh Roll and Kane Brown.

Brown, who is biracial, is one of the few artists of color to be nominated. (The other is country-gospel duo War & Treaty.) McEntire said she would be happy if country music could be more color-blind, echoing a growing trend since Beyoncé released “Cowboy Carter.” More vocals, saying she “didn’t feel welcomed by country music tastemakers” in the past.

“You know what? I don’t care who’s singing or what color you are. Are they good? If they’re not, we’re not playing. But if it’s a good song and it’s a great singer, they’re Should be on the radio.

Dolly Parton hits the red carpet at the 58th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards…
Dolly Parton hits the red carpet at the 58th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at The Star on Thursday, May 11, 2023 in Frisco. (Shafkat Anowar/Photographer)

She noted that in 2022, she hired up-and-coming Black country singer Brittney Spencer to open for her show.

“I learned a lot from Reba, but she didn’t say anything,” Spencer told Washington post in January. “Even the etiquette of learning how to handle yourself or how to handle other people — artists like her play a big role.” Spencer said McEntire’s boyfriend, actor Rex Lynne, asked Reba to treat her interested in music.

The Nashville-based Academy of Country Music has held its awards shows in Los Angeles or Las Vegas for much of its history. Thursday’s show brings ACMA back to the 12,000-seat Ford Center inside The Star, the headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys.

McEntire is no stranger to stars in blue and white. In 1997, she sang at the Thanksgiving halftime show, and in 2009, she performed as part of the festivities at the opening of AT&T Stadium (aka “JerryWorld”). (At the time it was called Cowboys Stadium.)

She said her ACMA opening monologue on The Star “is going to be fun” — just don’t expect her to dish out any harsh words for the formidable Cowboys owner.

“It’s not good. Jerry Jones and I are good friends,” she said. “I didn’t want to hurt his feelings at all.”


The 59th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Ford Center at The Star, 9 Stampede Road, Frisco. Tickets are at The show will be streamed exclusively on Prime Video (no membership is required to view the live stream.) Preview events include a benefit concert hosted by Parker Collum on May 15 at Topgolf (3760 Blair Oaks Dr., The Colony); 5 The free ACM Country Kickoff will be held at The Star on May 14th and 15th; and the ACM “Songs and Stories” concert will be held at The Star on May 15th.

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