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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Reba McEntire

Aired December 25, 2005 - 14:00   ET


LARRY KING< HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": Welcome back to a King-Sized Christmas. Making holiday presents out of our best shows of 2005. Now Reba McEntire, the queen of country, has conquered TV, Broadway and the bestseller charts.
When she dropped by in May, she told us she was about to strike out in a whole new direction.


REBA MCENTIRE, SINGER (SINGING): Somebody in the next car, somebody on the morning train, somebody in the coffee shop that you walk right by every day...

LARRY KING, HOST "LARRY KING LIVE" (voice-over): Tonight, Reba McEntire, the queen of country, keeps the triumphs coming, even after a tragic plane crash killed most of her band. She'll tell us about the faith that saw her through that devastating loss, and a whole lot more. The one, the only, Reba, in-depth and personal for the hour is next, on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING (on camera): Hey, it's always a great pleasure to welcome her to LARRY KING LIVE. She's been doing Larry King shows for a long time, radio as well.

The endless hit, Reba McEntire, the Grammy-winning singer, sold more than 48 million albums, has been called the "queen of country music," the star of her own TV sitcom, "Reba." Reba, the best-selling author, Broadway star -- killed them in "Annie, Get Your Gun." If that's not enough, she's making her debut in the fashion world with a new line of women's clothing.

And, while we taped this a few days before March 28th, we're playing it a little afterwards. She is now 50. How does that feel?

MCENTIRE: Feels great.

KING: You don't feel bad? Some people, they feel bad about turning 50.

MCENTIRE: No, I've been looking forward to this day.

KING: Why?

MCENTIRE: At this time when I turn 50, because so there's many of my friends and family who didn't get to see 50-years-old, and so, I'm celebrating for them too.

KING: So, you don't feel like, when you're 50, this is the aging part of life for a woman?

MCENTIRE: I think it's a wonderful time for a woman. I have learned a lot about myself and come to deal with a lot of things that, at first, bothered me. But now, I absolutely love where I am in life. I'm happy. I'm very content. I'm busier, probably, than I've ever been, and I have lots of wonderful friends. My family, you know, are all still, you know, very close. We're all still very close. Mom and Daddy are still alive. So, what more can you ask for? Your kids are healthy.

KING: How about how ageism is affecting country music? Does the fact that you're a certain age -- will that have an affect on songs you get, venues you play, et cetera? Is it a young woman's game?

MCENTIRE: Well, they -- you know they say it is, but my concert tours do very well, and I'm getting played on the radio. So, I think it has to do with the product and what you take to the public. If they like it, they're going to come see you, and if they don't, and if you're kind of getting out of the trendy line of things, then they won't come see you. But, so far, it hasn't been a problem.

KING: Is it hard to find that song?

MCENTIRE: Oh, it's always hard to find a song, you know, because everybody's looking for that great monster hit, and that's something that I love to do, though, while I'm driving down to the TV show, you know, "The Reba Show," to rehearse or whatever -- I've got CDs in my car, listening all the time for that next song, because everybody's looking.

KING: Does everybody pitch you?

MCENTIRE: Uh-huh. They have to be published, you know, but, yes. Thank goodness. You know, I get a lot of people pitching songs to me.

KING: Do you write any of your own?

MCENTIRE: No. I did. I used to.

KING: A lot of people do.

MCENTIRE: Oh, a lot of people do, yes. It's like, if I could sew, I would. Or if I could -- you know, instead of going to a restaurant, you know, you'd -- why don't you stay home and make a pie instead of going and ordering one?

But I like to listen to demos. I like to hear the finished product. It's like listening to a song -- I mean, a story. If you're going to sit here and tell me a story, I just like to listen. I don't want to make them up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (SINGING): You know, I might have been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was my name. She said, here's your one chance, Fancy. Don't let me down. She said, here's your one chance, Fancy. Don't let me down


KING: Is there a formula?

MCENTIRE: For a good song?

KING: Yes. Is there something when you hear, you -- yeah!


KING: And have you been wrong?

MCENTIRE: Uh-huh. Not often.


MCENTIRE: Not often am I wrong. But, a good song has to have a great melody, and the lyrics have to touch my heart. Now, if it's just a little toe-tapper, got to make me feel good somehow or another, or when I sing it I can't make you feel good.

But I think a song that is really emotionally packed, with a great melody that just will soar, that's the keeper.

KING: Now, you spread your wings much further. We're going to talk a lot of these bases. You went Broadway.


KING: How many country people do that, right? They're singers, they concert, they record. What took you to do "Annie Get Your Gun"?

MCENTIRE: Well, they had asked me to do "Annie Get Your Gun" before it started, and I said, no, I'm on tour...

KING: The re-do?

MCENTIRE: Yes, the revival of it. And, I say, no, I can't do that because I'm on tour. I've got too many people out here depending on me. Besides, I'm a gypsy at heart and I like to travel around.

So, Narvel and I, we're traveling to Europe, to London, to do a TV show called "Stars Sing the Beatles." And, so, we were going to fly over there on the Concord. Well, we flew up to New York on our plane from Nashville, and we got there and they had backed the catering truck into the Concord and knocked the door off the hinges, so they canceled the flight.

So, there we were, Sunday afternoon and nothing to do, and Narvel says, what do you want to do? Well, I said, let's go see a play. Let's go see a matinee. He said, what do you want to see? I said, well, I don't care, any play. I'd just love to go to a show. He said, well, you know, they've been asking you to do "Annie Get Your Gun" for a long time. Let's just go see what it's about.

KING: Who was doing it then?

MCENTIRE: Bernadette.

KING: Oh, yes.

MCENTIRE: And so I said, absolutely. So, we got a cab, got our car, whatever was taking us, and went over to the Marquis Theater and watched "Annie Get Your Gun."

KING: And?

MCENTIRE: At intermission, we turned to each other and I said -- as he was saying -- I said, I've got to do this show. I've got to be on that stage. He said, you've got to do this show.


MCENTIRE (SINGING): How I felt in his arms, I just can't recall, but his arms held me fast and he broke the fall.


KING: And, you had never done Broadway, right?


KING: What was, for you, opening night, like?

MCENTIRE: I was ready early. I was -- see, the first 17 minutes, I'm not in the show and I would be backstage and I'd be watching. I'd be looking. And they'd say, Reba, back stage. I would go back out there. Are they ready for me yet? Not yet. And Larry Storch (ph) was in there.

KING: I love him.

MCENTIRE: He was hysterical, and he'd come down and (INAUDIBLE), Reba, darling, and then we would go out. He was so much fun. John Shuck...

KING: You weren't worried at all, nervous?

MCENTIRE: No. I was just so excited to get out there. Not the least bit nervous. That -- Annie Oakley was my hero growing up. I loved Annie Oakley, and I wanted little outfits like Annie Oakley wore on her TV show, and before I went to school, I'd watch the TV show, when our television would work, and then I'd run down to the cattle guard and walk back up with Pake and Alice, my older brother and sister, and tell them what happened on the Annie Oakley show that day.

KING: Did they teach you how to handle guns? MCENTIRE: When I found out that I was going to do a movie called "Buffalo Girls" with Anjelica Huston several years prior to this, I went and learned how to skeet shoot and trap shoot, because I wanted to be able to look like I knew how to shoot a gun, because we never did that when we were home in Oklahoma. So, I took lessons, and I love to shoot now. It's a lot of fun.

So, when I got on the stage of the Broadway production of "Annie Get Your Gun," I looked like I knew what I was doing with a gun.


(SINGING): With a gun, with a gun, no, you can't get a man with a gun.


KING: Did it ever get old hat?

MCENTIRE: I got tired, but the show never got old for me, and every night, a different song was my favorite. Every performance.

KING: No kidding?

MCENTIRE: The music of that show, it's just wonderful.

KING: Our guest is the wonderful Reba McEntire. We'll be right back.


MCENTIRE (SINGING): Somebody in the next car, somebody on the morning train, somebody in the coffee shop that you walk right by every day. Somebody that you look at, but never really see. Somewhere out there, is somebody.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the first sheriff's deputies arrived about 45 minutes after the crash, there were still small fires burning. Even after dawn, the wreckage was smoldering.

MCENTIRE: The plane that Jim and the band were in went up and just hit the mountain.

KING: Taken off out of San Diego?


KING: Where there inconclusive reports yet? Do they know why?

MCENTIRE: The best of my knowledge, it was just -- they just hit the mountain. I mean, there was no...

KING: Pilot error?



KING: You've had tough loss, right?


KING: Emotionally and professionally.


KING: You had that crash, right?

MCENTIRE: Yes, in '91.

KING: How many died?

MCENTIRE: There were six band members, my tour manager and two pilots.

KING: Why weren't you on that plane?

MCENTIRE: I was never scheduled to be on the plane. I was going to leave the next day with Narvel -- my husband, Narvel Blackstock, who is also my manager -- and Sandy Speka, who did my clothes and hair. And we were going to leave the next morning to go to Fort Wayne, Indiana. And the two planes that were taking the band and crew that we had taken out to San Diego were flying out after the show. And so I was never supposed to be on that plane.

KING: So, two planes went? And one crashed.


KING: And one crashed?


KING: How did you hear about it? I remember talking about this a long time ago.


KING: About radio, we did all night.

MCENTIRE: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: How did you hear about it?

MCENTIRE: We were already asleep, Narvel and I, back to the hotel.

KING: You were going to perform in Ft. Wayne?

MCENTIRE: The next night.

And so we were asleep there in San Diego. And our pilot called us. And his brother was on one of the other planes. And when he was leaving the airport, he saw in his rear view mirror that there was an explosion.

KING: Oh, it was taking off like?

MCENTIRE: Uh-huh, it was taking out from Brownfield, it hit O.K. (ph) Mountain. And so he called Narvel. And he said, Narvel, I need you to come down to my room. I sat up in bed. I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it.

And when Narvel came back, he told me that there had been a plane crash. And I said are they OK? He said, I don't think so.

And so we, of course, stayed up the rest of the night. Narvel was calling everybody to let them know.

KING: Were you able to perform soon after or not?

MCENTIRE: I never thought I would ever perform again.

KING: How long were you off?

MCENTIRE: That was march of '91, and the Oscars was, I think, two weeks after that. And when we got back to Nashville, it was Sunday when I was setting at my dressing room table. And I just had a feeling of them all around me, Jim and all the band. And they were just like, it's OK. Go ahead. You can do it for us.

And I was singing at the Oscars a song from "Postcards From the Age" "I'm Checking Out of This Heartbreak Hotel." Is that not ironic? I thought that was so touching.

KING: Was it tough finding new band members?

MCENTIRE: Yes. To replace those people?

KING: Yes.


KING: Tough for the people coming in too.

MCENTIRE: Yes, it was. Vince Gil called me and said, buddy, I'll be there for you. I'll play guitar for you. I said, Vince, how am I ever going to turn around again without -- and not expect them to be there?

He said, buddy, I'll be there for you.

KING: You have a lot of faith, though, right?

MCENTIRE: Very much.

KING: Do you still feel them around you?

MCENTIRE: I do. I do. I feel comforted by them. And I know that they're OK. I knew it sitting there at my dressing room table that they were OK.

KING: Larry: You said that you thought God had a reason?


KING: What would be the reason?

MCENTIRE: I have no idea, but I'm sure going to ask him when I get up there.

KING: Do you keep in touch with family members.

MCENTIRE: Oh, all the time.

KING: From the band?

MCENTIRE: From the band, no. I have talked to Debbie Hammond quite a bit, Jim Hammond's wife, his widow. I've seen their kids. And last time we played Dallas, a lot of them came over. It's hard for them to come see the show. It's still hard.

KING: Did it make you at all fearful of flying?

MCENTIRE: No. Got back in the plane the next day.

KING: You put that aside? Your fears of heights?


KING: But after a crash of your friends, you could fly?


KING: That's why you're a little weird.

MCENTIRE: Absolutely.

KING: Weird Reba, that's what we call you.

MCENTIRE: But we all looked at each other, Sandy and Narvel and I, and said, are you OK to do this? I said yes. And I said Sandy are you OK. And she said yes. And we all believe things happen for a reason. And it's just meant to be. We don't know why.

KING: Is your faith a big part of your life?


KING: Have you ever doubted it?

MCENTIRE: My faith? No.

KING: Even in bad times?

MCENTIRE: No. Never have doubted it, even when the plane crash happened. I wasn't mad at God. I just knew that there was a reason that I didn't know about why it happened.

KING: Now, what about this clean image of Reba McEntire? Have people ever said to you, sex it up a little?

MCENTIRE: To me? No.

KING: Why not? You're gorgeous.

MCENTIRE: Well, thank you, Larry.

I'm more of the down-home -- I guess, you know, the good-old girl. Being sexy is kind of funny to me. You know, I can get kind of spunky or I can get tough, you know, that kind of tough, sexy look. But sexy? No, I don't think so.

Just what you see is what you get on me. And it's never been anything of a sexual nature. It just, you know...

KING: But you sing romantic songs?

MCENTIRE: Uh-huh, yes.

KING: Love songs, certainly?

MCENTIRE: Yes. Not sexy songs, though, I guess not.

KING: Are you not comfortable singing country like "Annie Get Your Gun?"

MCENTIRE: To me, there's two types of songs, good and bad. And I just like to stick with the good ones.

KING: We'll be back with a good one, Reba McEntire. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: She has sold more than 48 million albums, called the queen of country music. She's Reba McEntire, and we're touching lots of bases. What was your break?

MCENTIRE: I had lots of breaks. I guess the one that got my foot in the door was singing the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in '74. I had always gone up to the National Finals Rodeo; that's like the World Series of rodeo, to watch the barrel racing, because that's the event that I was in the rodeo -- it's a girl's event, you're on a horse, and you go around the barrels, and it's a timed event.

And so, daddy -- I was already in college, Southeastern State University in Durant, Oklahoma. And daddy said, Reba, why don't you get you a job up there instead of just going up there and having a good time and partying? Because he knew what I was doing. And I said, well, doing what? He said, why don't you get you a job singing the National Anthem? Well, that's a good idea.

So I contacted some friends, Clement Badden (ph), who had been a friend of the family forever, and asked him if I could, you know, get a job doing that. And he said, well, yeah. And so, I went up. And the first night, I sang with Al Goodness Orchestra (ph). And Al said, OK, we'll do this in the key of, say, A. I said, no, I do it in E. He said, we'll do it in A. And I was up in falsetto range, you know, it was just horrible. This was for rehearsal. And so when we got through, I said, OK, now what are we going to do now? He said, we'll sing it in your key. We'll play it in your key you can sing it in.

KING: How did that make a career, though? How was that a big break, to sing the National Anthem at a rodeo?

MCENTIRE: So of course, there is about 9,000 or 10,000 people there every night, and there was 10 performances. And so I was walking back, you know, up and down I guess the corridor, whatever you call it, before the rodeo started, and I was going to get on my little platform to sing the National Anthem. And a good friend of mine, Ken Lance (ph), stopped me and said, Reba, I would like you to meet a friend of mine, Red Steagall. And he's a big old tall Texan, and a country singer. And Red heard me sing the National Anthem. And so after the rodeo, we all went over to the Hilton, I think it was, and they had a Justin Boot party. And we all -- all the cowboys were in there. Red was entertaining. And so, they said -- Pake, my older brother and little sister Susie was with me, and they wanted to know if we wanted to sing some songs. We did. And I sang Dolly's song "Joshua."

And mama was asking Red if there was any way that he could get us into the music business. He said, oh, Jackie, I'm just fighting for myself right now.

And a month later, Red called mama and said, I don't think I could take all three of them, but would you let Reba try to get a record deal? And mama talked to all three of us, and Pake and Susie both said, OK, go ahead.

KING: Did you have a hit early?

MCENTIRE: Oh, no. That was in '76, when I first recorded. No, no. That was in '74, when I sang the National Anthem. '75, when I went to Nashville, got a recording contract with Polygram Mercury Records in October of '75, recorded my first song in '76, when it was released, and I had my first number one record in '81.

KING: Five years?

MCENTIRE: Yeah, overnight success, huh?

KING: What was your number one record?

MCENTIRE: "Can't Even Get the Blues."

KING: Did you know that this could be the breakthrough?

MCENTIRE: Well, you know what? I was singing a lot of waltzes. And I was with Jerry Kennedy, my producer, and he was playing me some songs, and he said, hey, I want to play you this song that I'm going to get Jackie Ward to record. He was on Polygram Records also. And it was a song called "Can't Even Get the Blues," and it was real snappy and cute song. And I said, Jerry, why don't you ever play me a thing like that? He said, you mean you would like to sing something like that? I said, well, yeah. I said, besides, we play so many dances and honky-tonks, they're getting tired of doing waltzes, dancing to waltzes. I said, give me an up-tempo song where I can play that on the show. And so we recorded it, and that was my first number one record.

KING: What must it have been like when you start hearing yourself on the radio a lot?

MCENTIRE: Well, the first time...

KING: It had to be a hoot.

MCENTIRE: The first time we heard it, my very first single that was out, was called "I Don't Want to Be a One-Night Stand." And it came on the radio. We were listening to KAVO (ph) out of Tulsa, and we had an old radio that you had to kind of touch it to make it come in, you know, the reception better. And it was static real bad. And we all -- mama and Susie now were there at the house. And it came on the radio, and Billy Parker said, "here's little Reba McEntire from southeastern Oklahoma." She's got a good song on her hands right here called "I Don't Want to Be a One-Night Stand." And we all just kind of went to the floor and just sat there and hugged each other and cried.

And it went to 81 on the charts.

KING: What a bullet.

MCENTIRE: Oh, yeah, with a bullet, and just sat there.

KING: What's the state of country music today? Is there too much pop, too much crossover?

MCENTIRE: I don't think it's too much of anything. I think it's always been very broad. There's been contemporary on one side and very traditional on the other. And I think there's great upcoming very talented people, with Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, a new sound, with Muzik Mafia coming on the scene. I admire people that want to try something different.

KING: Muzik Mafia?

MCENTIRE: That's the name of their company, yeah. They call themselves the Muzik Mafia.

KING: Is music blending a lot now where you can say that's either country or -- are they blending into each other? I mean...

MCENTIRE: I think people are still fighting against that. I think they want to keep it separate, but I've never been a crossover artist for some reason. I've tried real hard to get on different kinds, not to change from country, but to broaden my audience, because I always thought that was awfully sad that people would say, you're this or you're that, instead of you're just either good or bad, and I'll play your music or I won't. I always thought that was so strange that people would try to corral you and pigeonhole you in one category and not play you anywhere else.

KING: But you never had crossover hits? How do you explain that?

MCENTIRE: I think it's the way I talk. I think they thought I was too country. And I'm not ashamed of that by any means.

KING: Our guest is Reba McEntire. When we come back, we'll talk about Reba and television right after this.




MCENTIRE: No, ma'am, I don't sell houses. My name is Reba Hart and I sell homes! And if I had a card, I'd pull one out of my breast and give it to you!


DOLLY PARTON, SINGER: Rule four, get to their hearts, not their brains. You got the job. And you are going to be the prettiest woman in the office.

MCENTIRE: Oh, second to you.

PARTON: Hey, we're not comparing apples and melons here.


KING; No entourages, no big nannies, she's just Reba. And she's one of the great stars in the history of American music, happens to be specializing in country, but she's sold 48 million albums. That ain't too bad.

What led to the Reba television show? Four years now, right?

MCENTIRE: Yes, we just ended the fourth season. Narvel and I came out to Los Angeles, I guess it was five years ago, maybe six, and wanting to investigate on doing a television sitcom. Because I always had been a fan of comedy. And singing country songs, it's usually sad stuff that I sing about. And so, I always thought I was pretty funny. So, I wanted to do a sitcom. So, we come out to Los Angeles. And we met with every network. We met with show runners, directors, writers, everything. And what we had an idea for, they didn't like. And what they had an idea for, we didn't like. So, we went home.

And so in 2000, I got a script called Sally. And I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Allison Gibson wrote it, great script. And so I went and read for the part and so they said -- they called me back for everybody else to come listen to me. So, I read for it twice.

And I was in the middle of rehearsals for "Annie Get Your Gun" January 2001 when I went in for my second call. And by the time I flew from -- I left "Annie Get Your Gun" rehearsals, flew in on a Sunday -- that's the only day they cold see me -- flew right back into rehearsals for "Annie Get Your Gun." And by the time I got back to New York, they said you got the part.

And so they changed the name from "Sally" to "Deep in the Heart" to "Reba" finally.

KING: And why did it work?

MCENTIRE: Great writing. If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage. For no. 1, it's great writing, super writing. The second thing is that it's great chemistry with all the actors. We just all got along from the very start. Very get-go, we all got along. We just -- it was just like we were all meant to be there together.

KING: Is the character you?

MCENTIRE: Yes, the character is Reba. Reba Hart is Reba McEntire, back and forth. It's just a -- she's a very strong-willed, very family-loving, protective, red-headed, stubborn woman. That's pretty much me.

KING: That's a tough business, the business of sitcoms and making it.

MCENTIRE: Yes. Everybody said it was going to be, you know...

KING: You got good reviews early too.

MCENTIRE: Always have been treated very well. Very well. And just having a great time with it.

And, you know, we'll have our shows where we go, you know, we can do better. We can do better. It's always -- nobody's ever just happy with where we are. We're always wanting to do better.

KING: How much does it take away from doing concerts and music?

MCENTIRE: It doesn't at all.

KING: At all?


KING: You have a work week, don't you? You have to shoot all week?

MCENTIRE: Yes. But there have been a lot of times I would play on the weekends and come back and shoot the show. Because we go Wednesday to Tuesday. We tape Tuesday night. So, we're through by 2:00 Friday afternoon. And then we would jump on a plane, go do a concert.

KING: You like working?

MCENTIRE: Seem to like it, yes.

KING: Tell me about Narvel. How you two met? How this all came together that he's so entwined with -- he's your husband, but he's more than that.

MCENTIRE: He is more than that. He is more than that.

Narvel and I started working together 25 years ago. He was my steel guitar player. And then my tour manager got sick and so Narvel said that he wanted to be a tour manager instead of a steel guitar player. Which I thought -- I never hear those words come out of his mouth, because he did love to play so much. But he put his steel guitar aside, his steel guitar and became my tour manager.

KING: Did you have a chemistry early on?

MCENTIRE: No. You know, it was really funny, Out of all the guys in my band -- I would hug their neck and tell them I loved them, just like brothers. But Narvel and I, you know, it was just like -- never even hugged.

KING: So, how do you explain it?

MCENTIRE: I think it was -- I don't know. Maybe it was something we knew deep down inside. Don't go there.

KING: And there really wasn't a moment?

MCENTIRE: No. I think it was a growing thing. Because when you respect somebody so much, it's really neat when that friendship and then the respect turns into love, because it's got a really solid foundation. And you can go through about anything together and it not fall apart.

KING: What's special about him?

MCENTIRE: It would be easier for me to say what's not special about Narvel. Everything is special about Narvel. He is a very committed, 150 percent, give it all you got, get her done kind of guy. Shelby will love me saying that, get her done. That's his saying.

But Narvel is a very creative person, hardworking. From the very beginning, he has been on my side, been my A-No. 1 supporter. KING: Haven't you ever had differences? He likes something you don't like?


KING: How do you resolve it?

MCENTIRE: We argue about it. And I'll give him my point. And he should have been a lawyer, really, because he will talk and talk and talk until I'm sick of talking about it and I say, OK if you'll shut up, I'll do it.

KING: Are there times when you're on one of these concert swings when you don't know where you're at?

MCENTIRE: Oh, yes. Yeah, I've been on stage before and I say everybody from Georgia, put your hands together. And my monitor guys are going Reba, we're in Florida.

KING: You tour on a plane or bus?

MCENTIRE: Plane. I've been flying since I was five months pregnant with Shelby.

KING: Shelby is, what, 15?


KING: That's your only child?


KING: How is he doing?

MCENTIRE: He's doing great.

KING: What does he want to do?

MCENTIRE: I have no idea. He changes about every once in a while.

KING: Where does he go to school?

MCENTIRE: Here in Los Angeles. He loves it. He has got great buddies, great friends. He's got a great instinct about people. And I'm not really worried about him.

KING: Musically inclined?

MCENTIRE: He can play the guitar very well, picked it up himself. He took a few lessons. But what he does, he gets in his room and works on it.

KING: So, where do you live?

MCENTIRE: Here in Los Angeles. KING: You live in L.A.?


KING: Do you go to Nashville a lot?

MCENTIRE: We still have our home there. And we go there in the summer. Because of the TV show, I'm here from August to March to the TV show. And then Shelby doesn't get out of school until June, so in the summertime, a few months we're in Nashville. And then we got back for holidays.

We have got our three older children there.

KING: Are you always recording?

MCENTIRE: Am I always recording?

KING: Do you always do a CD a year, like?

MCENTIRE: Pretty much. 2002 was the only year I didn't record. Isn't that bizarre? Out of 20 -- since '76, that's the only year I haven't recorded.

KING: What happened that year?

MCENTIRE: I told them, I'm going to take a time off. I'm going to take a break.

KING: We're talking about Reba and a line of women's clothing right after this.


MCENTIRE: Forget about instructions. We don't need them. We can build this thing. We have got the tool belts and we got this thing. Wow! Step aside, son.




MCENTIRE (SINGING): I was thinking just today about how we used to play Barbie dolls and makeup, tea parties, dress-up. I remember how we'd fight, then makeup and laugh all night. Wish we were kids again, my sister, my friend.


KING: We're back with the wonderful Reba McEntire. Her TV show, "Reba," we just talked about has wound up its fourth season. Her most recent album was "Room to Breathe." Her latest hit single is called "My Sister." Do you have a sister?


KING: Is there anything in that song that's, like, real?

MCENTIRE: Well, yes. They talk about Barbie dolls and stuff, and I said, can we change that to playing cowboys and Indians or something like that, because...

KING: You were tomboys?

MCENTIRE: I never had a doll in my life, that I played with. I had, you know, gifts that I would kind of put aside, but...

KING: You were a boy at heart?

MCENTIRE: Yes, little Susie, my little sister, she had baby dolls, and Alice, I think she had a baby doll. I don't remember. But Alice is four years older. Pake's in-between, and then Susie is two years younger. We're all two years apart, very close-knit. I talked to all four of them -- all three of them yesterday. We're very close.

KING: Were you like a Little League player? Were you like a boy?


KING: Tom boy?

MCENTIRE: Because Pake and I were the two middle ones. And Pake and I, honest to goodness, Pake and I would run out of the house when we were released from our chores, saying anything you can do, I can do better. And it would start with throwing rocks, to doing push-ups and to playing the piano, playing the guitar and we'd just trade off, and then it'd just be arm-wrestling or anything.

KING: By the way, singing that song -- is it that a fun song to sing?

MCENTIRE: It's a wonderful song. Too much fun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can jump a hurdle.

MCENTIRE: I can wear a girdle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can knit a sweater.

MCENTIRE: I can fill it better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can do most anything.

MCENTIRE: Can you bake a pie?



KING: "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better." I can do anything better than you. Irving Berlin was a genius.

MCENTIRE: Oh, he was a genius!

KING: The simplicity.


KING: The genius of simplicity. Sinatra told me that.


KING: You know, "What'll I Do," that song is so simple.


KING: "What'll I do when you are far away, and I'm blue? What'll I do?"

MCENTIRE: Great song. Great song.

KING: Hard to beat.

MCENTIRE: It is. It is. Absolutely.

KING: Now, what's with you and fashion?

MCENTIRE: OK, here's the deal.

KING: The Reba collection.

MCENTIRE: Two years ago, they came to me and said, would you be interested in doing a clothing line? I said, probably not. I don't know anything about being a designer. And they said, well, Dillard's is interested in having your clothing line in their stores, and I said, well -- they said, why don't we take a meeting? I said, all right.

So, it was a company named Dream Design, and so I took a meeting with them, two-hour meeting. At the end -- they showed me fabric samples, designs, everything -- and I said, guys, I wouldn't wear a thing you showed me, and if I won't wear it, I won't put my name on it. And they said, well, wait a minute. What do we have to do to make this continue on? I said, why don't I tear out pages of catalogs and magazines and I'll show you what I don't like and what I do like.

And then, so a few days rock (ph) by, and so we had another meeting. It was a million times better. They brought in fabrics that had great quality, great feel to them, colors that I like. I'm not a person that likes a lot of print, and so, at first, they had all these paisleys and wild, bold patterns and I said, I don't like any of that.

And so, we continued from there and after a couple of meetings, I said, I think we can do that. So, Dream Design formed a company called Icon which represents me out of their division, and the clothes are distributed at Dillard's.

KING: Only Dillard's stores have them?

MCENTIRE: Yes, right now.

KING: Expensive?

MCENTIRE: No, $48 to $248, size 14 to four.

KING: Do you approve every design?


KING: They show them to you before they make them?

MCENTIRE: What we do -- I work with Hilton Smith. He's a wonderful designer, and he draws things up for me and he shows me these huge vials of colors. There's thread inside, and I'll say, ooh, I like that, ooh, I like that. Oh, yuck, I don't like that at all. He'll take it out, like that, like that.

And then, he'll say, which jacket do you like? And I said, I like that. How come you like that? I said, well, I like it because it makes you look smaller here, and it's long, so it elongates you. And then he'll say, what shirts do you like? And he's drawing them all up, and skirts and jeans and pants, and...

KING: Didn't you once say jeans is your favorite apparel?

MCENTIRE: Uh-huh. Yes.

KING: Still is?

MCENTIRE: Still is, and Hilton has been working on the jeans for a long time because I want to get them just right. You know, the low hip-huggers are all in right now and I want them to be higher, you know, so when you get a certain age, you get the "dunnlap" disease.

KING: What's that?

MCENTIRE: Well, it done laps over your belt. So, you've got to have something that will hold it up.

KING: Is there a Reba McEntire outfit?

MCENTIRE: Yes, it is. This is from the Reba line, the shirt, jacket and the pants.

KING: Do you go into Dillard's and look, see if people are touching, buying it?

MCENTIRE: Well, for the last month or two, we've been going into Dillard's stores and doing fashion shows and I'm walking out and introducing the models to them. KING: So, where does it stop with you? OK -- television, Broadway stage, records, mother, husband, clothing line. What's next? Perfume?

MCENTIRE: Oh, that's an idea. But we do want to introduce, after we get -- after about a year of the clothing line, I want to do shoes.

KING: Shoes?

MCENTIRE: I love to wear boots -- and shoes, I don't like at all. So, I want to design a shoe that's comfortable. I mean, I'm going to have to wear them.

KING: No such thing in ladies' shoes.

MCENTIRE: Well, that's because men design them. They don't have to wear them. Isn't that terrible? That was awful for me to say. But I have to think, sometimes, that somebody who hates women designs shoes that are so uncomfortable, because I just come home crying sometimes.

KING: So is that next, you're going to do shoes?

MCENTIRE: I'd love to shoes down the line somewhere, accessories.

KING: Wait a minute. Martha Stewart?

MCENTIRE: There you go. That's a nice person to pattern after.

KING: You wouldn't mind it?

MCENTIRE: I wouldn't mind it at all.

KING: Table cloths and a whole bunch of other things?

MCENTIRE: Well, that'd be a possibility. We'll just stick with the clothes right now and see how -- if the fans enjoy it, if the customers want to buy them, that will be great.

KING: With all you do, though, singing is still paramount?

MCENTIRE: Yes. It's like...

KING: You know, I don't want to put words in your mouth.

MCENTIRE: No,. You're not putting words in my -- I'd tell you the truth.

I -- at first, when I didn't tour, that one summer -- didn't record, I didn't miss it because I'd been touring and recording for 25 straight years, didn't take a break. But after I did go two years without touring, I missed it and when I got to go back and record that next year, I absolutely had a blast. And you know what? I went into the recording studio and I picked songs that is I loved. I didn't pick them because I thought radio would play them. I didn't pick them because it was politically correct at the time. I didn't record it because that's the hip thing to do. I recorded them because I loved those songs.

KING: Is recording as much fun as being on stage?

MCENTIRE: In a different way.

KING: Yes. We'll be right back with our remaining moments with the wonderful Reba McEntire right after this.


MCENTIRE (SINGING): I don't care where this road goes. No, I don't want to turn around. Let go of the wheel. Feel the wind blow. Don't even think about slowing down, `cause I'd rather ride around with you.



KING: We're back with Reba McEntire. With all you've got going, what about movies?

MCENTIRE: No. I'm busy. I'm busy. I love the television genre of it all. I am thoroughly delighted with it, and I like everything about television. I like the rehearsal schedule. I like that I'm in the same dressing room every day. I like -- I love the people I get to work with. And I like that I have a different script every week.

KING: You're one of the voices in "Charlotte's Web," right?


KING: They're remaking "Charlotte's..."

MCENTIRE: I'm having a blast with that. And also...

KING: Who are you?

MCENTIRE: I am Betsy, and my sister -- we're cows -- and my sister is Bitsy. And that's Kathy Bates.

KING: Oh, I love Kathy Bates. Do you work together, or are they...?

MCENTIRE: Yeah. No, together. We got to do it together. And I'm also Dixie on "Fox and the Hound II."

KING: When you said the recording versus in person, both a kick, but different, what is the kick? Recording is tedious, isn't it? Do it over, do it over. Do this now. We'll go change this. MCENTIRE: Well, I work with producers that I'll tell them, I'll sing until the band gets it. Because I'm with the band while they're there.

KING: You don't have...

MCENTIRE: Oh, no, no, no. I'm there with the band and we work it out together. And then when they've got the track we all like, then I'll sing it three more times. And if I didn't get it by then, we're not going to get it today.

KING: You sang at a Ray Charles tribute, right? You sang "I Can't Stop Loving You," one of his biggest hits.

MCENTIRE: It's a great song.

KING: How did you consider him? What was, in the lexicon of music, Ray Charles to you?

MCENTIRE: Ray Charles to me was soul. I mean, I've heard stories about Ray just coming in off the road and going right back and sitting down at that piano. What a love affair with music and that piano that he had. I've never had that kind of dedication.


MCENTIRE: I don't think so. I was always a very -- my attention span was of a 2-year-old, mama always said. So, I was, you know, flitting around, doing different things all the time.

KING: Did Ray have a natural affinity for country music?

MCENTIRE: He loved country music. And you know, most of the stuff I learned...

KING: Didn't do it early.

MCENTIRE: Well, that's not -- yeah, that's what the movie -- did you see the movie?

KING: Oh, what a movie.

MCENTIRE: Wasn't that great? Jamie Foxx did such a great job on that. I just loved it.

KING: He was Ray.

MCENTIRE: Yeah. Yeah. He did a wonderful job.

KING: Have you sung duets with a lot of people?

MCENTIRE: Not a lot. No, not a lot.

KING: Do you like that?

MCENTIRE: I love to sing with different people. Do you know who I would like to do a duet with? I just saw her the other day on "The View," Tina Turner. Annie Lennox. Wouldn't that be fun, those two different people?

KING: Why don't you let them know?

MCENTIRE: I just did.

KING: That's -- what am I talking about?

MCENTIRE: Isn't that a sneaky way of doing it?

KING: They would jump up at that.

MCENTIRE: Everybody watches you, so that's the best way to (INAUDIBLE).

KING: What fun that would be, right?

MCENTIRE: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: You had a tough time. Your father wasn't emotional, right?

MCENTIRE: Daddy had so much on his mind, and he was always so busy. Four kids, and went broke twice, and mama said he wore out 12 pencils trying to figure out how to get out of debt. And by golly, he did it. And he's a very -- he's a self-made man.

KING: You were poor, though?

MCENTIRE: Oh, yeah, but we never went hungry. So, I guess we weren't. But daddy -- mom and daddy now, you would think that they're still, you know, don't have a penny to their name. You know, they just -- they act like they did many, many years ago. Strong, great people. I'm so proud of them.

KING: How have you dealt with fame, being well known?

MCENTIRE: Fame is a mind -- a way of thinking about things. It's all in your mind. To me, being popular means I've got more friends. You've got to watch who your friends are, if you want to get close to them, but I've got a lot of acquaintances. And then, you've got to be real careful who your friends are, because you never know why they're your friend. And so, when you learn they're your friend because they do like you and not what you do, that's one of the greatest days in my life.

KING: Do you want to go back to Broadway?

MCENTIRE: I'd love to. If I ever found a story and the songs that I loved as much as "Annie Get Your Gun," I would do it in a heartbeat.

KING: Would you do a remake again, would you do a revival if there were the right one? MCENTIRE: Sure. I think it would be fun to do a new one, to have someone write one, a new one. But I'm really content with the TV show and getting to tour in the summer, and promoting the clothing line. But, boy, there's lots of years left.

KING: And your husband is completely happy being, like, behind the scenes?

MCENTIRE: Narvel is. Narvel doesn't like to be in the limelight one bit.

KING: Doesn't miss playing on stage?

MCENTIRE: No, he doesn't. I've asked him that several times, and family has too.

KING: Does he ever get up and play?

MCENTIRE: No, no, no. But I love Narvel with all my heart. He is -- he is just -- I couldn't have picked a better person.

KING: Have you ever been happier?


KING: Your whole life has come together?

MCENTIRE: I've got great kids, great grandkids, great husband, great friends and family and wonderful careers.

KING: Careers.

MCENTIRE: Careers. Keeps me busy. And my health is great. I've got a lot to thank the Lord about.

KING: Fifty, and you're not even halfway home.

MCENTIRE: There you go.

KING: Thank you, doll.

MCENTIRE: Thank you.

KING: Reba McEntire. I'll be right back.


KING: Since she stopped by, Reba's released a greatest hits CD caleed "Number Ones." She's had 33 of them.

Up next, the outrageous Kirstie Ally. That;s right after this news update.