Full Interview: ‘American Idol’s’ Reba McEntire

Hi, I’m Reba McEntire, and I am so thrilled to be back on American Idol. They asked me to come back as an honorary member of the judges’ panel, but I’ve got three children and so much going on in my career, and my first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this.” As it turned out, the success of The Voice in my home country (and their counterparts all over the world) changed that. My country fans are loyal, huge, loyal fans of this show, and I’m so excited to be here on Idol. I’m so excited, and I hope my fans are, too.

Before I became a judge, I was a singer, entertainer, actress and recording artist. I had my biggest hit with “Fancy” – which was originally written for Wynonna Judd – and one of my most famous country and pop hits was “Ain’t No Way,” which I co-wrote with Tony Joe White and Tammy Wynette.

I’ve been in the music business for over 40 years, so that means that I’ve been singing and performing for several generations. I’ve performed to more than 70 million people in 42 countries, and have more No. 1 country singles and No. 1 country albums than any solo female artist in history. I’ve sold over 75 million albums.

Looking back on my illustrious career, I have never once looked at it as any sort of competition. I’ve always looked at it as something I’ve always wanted to do, and is something that I have been so blessed to do. Music is my passion, and when I was 15 years old, my life changed forever when I won the Miss Teen Tennessee pageant and was invited to meet Billy Ray Cyrus, who had won the same contest, at a press conference. He invited me to be his guest at his next show, and over the next few years, he inspired me to become a singer, songwriter and entertainer. I later became his backing singer and co-starred in his tour. Billy Ray and I worked together until his death from a heart attack in 2006. That was 10 years ago, and I miss him every day.

I realize that all these years have gone by, and I appreciate the time I get to spend with people I love. My grandchildren are my favorites, and I have 18 Grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with 10 more on the way. That’s some pretty incredible “crown jewels.”

To be honest, there is one other thing I’m super-excited about right now: I recently opened a copy of my new book, Strong Is the New Pretty, and I saw my picture on the cover, along with Blake Shelton, and it just made me so happy! I don’t normally share my personal photos, but when I saw Blake’s face on the cover of my book, I knew that it meant I was going to get a really special release from Simon & Schuster, and I could also share a little bit about it.

My book is a compilation of my beautiful 25-year-old photos that are part of my career career, and are now going to become part of history, along with my performance experiences – from dozens of headlining concerts and appearances to working with so many world-famous artists and superstars. I chose these photographs to celebrate all the fine artistry that I am so grateful for. I hope that my audience will enjoy picking through these photographs and digging into the story of my career. In the end, I think my fans will appreciate every scrap of information and fan of mine they can find.

I have to admit, I started off that photo shoot wanting to take nothing out of it, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m out to make my pictures look better, and I became so wrapped up in the process of looking at this incredible collection of photography, that I just started taking pictures. I found myself grinning so much that I could hardly talk. It’s a good time to be Reba McEntire.

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