One might expect an entertainment and business mogul to take a break – or at the very least a quick breather – after a career that has produced over 55 million in worldwide album sales; 63 Top 10 hits; the #1 TV sitcom for 6 consecutive years on TWO networks; successful Clothing, Footwear and Home Collections; as well as a stint on Broadway that garnered a Drama Critics Award. As if that wasn’t enough, Reba McEntire is also the recipient of 15 American Music Awards, 9 People’s Choice Awards, 7 Country Music Association Awards, 2 GRAMMYS and is one of only four entertainers in history to be honored with a National Artistic Achievement Award by U.S. Congress.
For some, such success may be sufficient reason to rest, if not for the sense of accomplishment, then for the pure exhaustion factor. Don’t ever expect that from Reba. In a career that has evolved from its musical roots into a multimedia business empire, the reigning Queen of Country tackles her 34th studio album, All The Women I Am, with all the intensity, fire and spunk that you would expect from a redhead -- making it clear that slowing down is nowhere near Reba’s current agenda.
All the Women I Am, is Reba’s follow-up to the RIAA GOLD Certified Keep On Loving You, her 2009 inaugural effort on new label The Valory Music Co. The album became her first solo effort ever to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. In addition, Keep On Loving You, spent 2 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart and garnered the Top 10 hits, “Strange” and “I Keep On Loving You,” as well as the biggest chart hit of her career, the 4-week #1 “Consider Me Gone,” that earned Reba yet another spot in the record books as one of the only four female Country acts to log more than 3 weeks at #1.
In 2010, Reba continues her string of chart success with the lead single from, All The Women I Am. “Turn On the Radio,” a Top 10 hit and rising, is a lively, modern day kiss-off anthem – a song Reba instantly knew she wanted to record: “I fell for the song immediately. I love that it’s an up-tempo, strong woman song about a woman who has been done wrong by her lover and is telling him to turn on the radio if he wants to hear from her through their favorite song.”
And that’s not the only thing she has to say about love on this record. Interestingly, love is a theme that appears on nearly every track on, All The Women I Am, though all are unique in both their delivery and message. The title track, “All the Women I Am,” itself is both an allusion to the reality of Reba’s life – she is, after all, a mother, wife, daughter, sister, entertainment superstar, and businesswoman all rolled into one vivacious woman – as well as an energetic declaration that to love someone is to love all of the characters, traits and behaviors that make them whole. As much as a person is the sum of their qualities, experiences are also a critical factor in the shaping of an individual. It follows, then, that as the listener makes his/ her way through the tracks on this album, each song recalls a distinct experience that contributes to making the superstar all of the women that she is.
In one such experience, Reba sings the strolling tale of a woman whose marriage ended so long ago, that the day her divorce is final is not the heartbreaking milestone that you might expect it to be, but rather just like “every other day before.” Further depicting the nonchalant nature of “The Day She Got Divorced” is Reba’s traipsing delivery of the lyric, which serves to illustrate how numb and detached the character in the song has become.
Of course there are always those moments when you are smart enough to know that you should pour water over love’s fire on your own before someone else scorches your heart and you are left to watch the embers smolder. “The Bridge You Burn” is an upbeat, victorious rhetoric about a woman who realizes she needs to end a relationship that she knows will ultimately end in heartbreak before it’s too late. She burns her bridge to her lover by choice and finds herself able to “turn around and say, ‘man that was a close one.’ ”
Yet sometimes the heartbreak is inevitable, as personified in “Cry.” Reba’s soulful voice conveys the strength that is often difficult to find, but also necessary to gather when facing a break-up. In “Cry,” the storyteller lists all the ways in which to fight the tears because: “…if I don’t hold the waters back the dam is gonna crack; And I’ll be damned if I’m gonna drown…”
But don’t think that every song on, All The Women I Am, tells of love gone awry. As a nice juxtaposition, “When Love Gets A Hold Of You,” has a giddy beat reminiscent of the effervescence that tends to envelope those experiencing new love.
Then there’s the depiction of a love that runs so deep and unconditional that only a parent can fully understand what is expressed in the ballad, “When You Love a Child.” Regardless of all its missteps, mistakes or moments of victory, parenting offers one of the most pure and rewarding kinds of love there is as evidenced in the line, “The first time you hold ‘em it’s like you feel God smile when you have a child.”
“Somebody’s Chelsea” is an emotional declaration of the faith we keep that we will find someone who loves us unconditionally, passionately and eternally. Reba co-wrote the poignant tune with Liz Hengber and Will Robinson, “Somebody’s Chelsea,” which was inspired by a scene from the tragic romantic comedy, P.S. I Love You.
Always one to push boundaries and embark upon new territories, Reba tackles yet another first on All The Women I Am: Recording a cover of a Hip-Hop tune. Originally a hit for Beyonce, “If I Were A Boy,” was given a Country makeover via Reba’s legendary vocal style on a 2010 taping of CMT Unplugged. Within seconds of its launch, the clip found its way to the internet, creating a viral hit for the Country superstar. Both the fan and media buzz over Reba’s version of “If I Were A Boy” propelled Reba to begin work on her 34th career studio album (and the second for new label The Valory Music Co.)
Yet another first for Reba on, All The Women I Am, is who she secured to produce the album: the award-winning producer Dann Huff (Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts). Though Dann had worked as a musician on many of Reba’s previous projects, this album marks the first time the two have collaborated in this capacity. “It is so good to be back in the studio with Dann Huff,” Reba contends. “He has played guitar on so many of my albums and I was thrilled when he said yes to producing this CD with me. He’s a very talented, creative and fun person to work with.”
Perhaps the root of Reba’s multimedia success could be illustrated in one very simple mantra, “You’ve got to have a little want to;” in other words, achieving anything in life requires an intense internal fire. This in-your-face track titled, “A Little Want To,” expresses the necessity of both initiative and commitment in conquering one’s aspirations, no matter how lofty or reachable such goals may seem. Reba’s extensive body of work ranges from thriving musical career to incredibly successful television show, from captivating film and Broadway runs to countless thriving business pursuits – and she’s certainly not done. Driven by competition and a desire to be innovative, it’s clear that Reba understands the importance of preserving “A Little Want To” as she continues to find new mountains to climb.
And Reba’s fans exhibit a bit of the iconic redhead’s fire as well: Reba’s Facebook Fan count crossed one million in August 2010, putting her in the social network’s unofficial Country music “millionaire’s club” alongside Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Johnny Cash, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, and the Zac Brown Band. Such a triumph doesn’t befall just anyone; it takes a woman who has enough sass, steam and imagination to continue finding new outlets for her creativity and artistry to speak through, always giving her ardent fans a reason to wait and see what she will do next. With her Facebook fan count increasing by an average of 45,000 per week, it’s clear that Reba’s fans do not want her slowing down any more than she does.
All The Women I Am tells the tales of several different women, yet the title also reflects the truth that Reba’s myriad roles and experiences in life all make her the woman she is. So whether she wears the hat of a mother; a wife; a friend; a mentor; an autobiographical author; a Broadway performer; an entrepreneur; an acclaimed television star; or the Queen of Country, Reba will always be the icon with spunk and class that does things her way and doesn’t dare allow the sky to be the limit. And naturally, that’s the woman that people can’t seem to get enough of.
Reba McEntire - "Somebody's Chelsea":
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