Reba Stands By Her Gays
By Dustin Fitzharris
Country artists and their loyal fans have long been notorious for their right-wing viewpoints and rarely come out to play with LGBT audiences -- let alone speak with gay publications. But in March Martina McBride sent shock waves through the world of country music when she spoke with Out.
Now Reba McEntire is bridging the gap even more. As she releases her 31st album, Keep on Loving You, on August 18th, the one-time rodeo singer turned diva with album sales of over 55 million faces another challenge -- how to address the LGBT community without alienating the fan base that helped her reach and maintain country royalty status. McEntire ' who has topped the charts 33 times over -- spoke with Out about her new album, sending 'Tweebas' to her fans, and how growing older has changed her approach to making music.
Out: There are going to be people who will not appreciate you doing an interview with a gay publication. What do you say to those individuals who are more conservative and don't support the LGBT community?
Reba McEntire: I just try not to judge. Don't judge me, and I won't judge you. And that's what it says in the Bible -- 'Don't judge.' Keep an open mind. That would be my voice. I have gay friends. I have a lot of straight friends. I don't judge them. I take them for what they are. They're my friends, and I can't defend my feelings for them, other than I like 'em.
Do you think there is a place in country music for an openly gay artist?
[Laughs] I can't say for sure, but anything is possible.
The first single from your new album, 'Strange,' is your fastest rising solo single and the highest solo chart debut of your career. What is the key to your success?
We work really hard to stay up-to-date. We're all into the computers now. I don't know how many computers I own. I'm into Twitter. I tweet all my 'Tweebas.' I also do the blogs, the chats, and all this Facebook kind of stuff. You've got to stay current and up with the competition. The main thing, though, is finding the greatest songs you can possibly find.
Your husband, Narvel, said this album is one of the best of your career. What other albums do you think represent your strongest work?
Oh gosh. Looking back, I think the album with all of the songs I wish I had recorded. Oh, what is the name of that album? Narvel can tell you in a heartbeat.
You mean Starting Over in 1995?
Yes! That album was one of my strongest. For My Broken Heart (1991) was one of my strongest. When you have them out they are all your favorites. When you have 31 albums, it's hard to remember all of them.
Speaking of Narvel, you two just celebrated your 20th wedding anniversary. How have you maintained such a successful marriage?
Respect, faith, love, trust, and lots of patience.
There are many in the LGBT community who want the right to marry and have what you and your husband have together. What are your thoughts on same-sex marriage?
Again, I can't judge that. I have gay friends who have partners, and I see where they would want to get married. I understand why. So, I can't judge that.
Over the years your music has gone from more traditional country to more pop. How do you address critics who say you have abandoned your country roots?
You have to go with the times. Country music today is what pop was back in the '70s. You listen to '70s pop and by gosh, that's country music today. That's what is so great about being able to record a 13-song album. You can do a very eclectic group of songs. You do have some almost pop songs in there, but you do have your traditional country, story songs. You have your ballads, your happy songs, your sad songs, your love songs, and your feisty songs. If you only had one song you could put out to be heard, it would be like putting out a book a year.