Reba McEntire Was Too Country for a Crossover, but She’s ‘Not Ashamed of That by Any Means’

Though Reba McEntire is well-established as a queen of country, she didn’t confine herself to making music or even one genre. In fact, she said there was a time she tried to venture into other sounds, but it never worked.

McEntire thought that might have been because she was “too country” for mainstream audiences. But what else has she said about crossing over? And in what ways has she succeeded at venturing outside her genre?

Reba McEntire dressed in a black outfit and boots
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Reba McEntire on staying country: ‘I’ve never been a crossover artist for some reason.’

In a 2005 interview with CNN’s Larry King Live, McEntire talked to host Larry King about whether other musical sounds were starting to blend into the country genre.

“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,” she told King.

However, she said that wasn’t for lack of interest or effort on her part.

“I’ve tried real hard to get on different kinds, not to change from country, but to broaden my audience,” she explained, “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,” she concluded.

She also has a theory as to why that intermixing of sounds never worked out for her. “I think it’s the way I talk,” she guessed. “I think they thought I was too country. And I’m not ashamed of that by any means.”

There’s little doubt about it — she’s loyal to her country roots.

Reba McEntire is more than a country star

While McEntire did not branch out into other genres of music besides country, she is a successful actor. She’s had plenty of acting projects, like starring in the cult classic horror film Tremors and taking the lead in her own sitcom, Reba.

She was even supposed to have a role in Titanic but had to pass due to schedule changes which conflicted with her tour. On an episode of Watch What Happens Live, she told host Andy Cohen she already had the part of Molly Brown, but gave it up.

Of course, Kathy Bates played the character and was iconic — but fans of McEntire might be able to see her in the part, too.

Reba McEntire went to Broadway for the revival of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’

Though McEntire didn’t catch on in other musical genres besides country, she is still a multi-talented artist. In 2001, she combined singing and acting to perform in a Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

During their interview for CNN, King asked her what compelled her to take on the project, and she said she made her mind up while watching it herself — with Bernadette Peters in the lead. She told her then-husband, Narvel Blackstock, “I’ve got to do this show. I’ve got to be on that stage,” to which he agreed.

Though it was a first for her, she told King she wasn’t nervous to do it. “I was just so excited to get out there. Not the least bit nervous,” she shared.

“Annie Oakley was my hero growing up,” she explained. “I loved Annie Oakley, and I wanted little outfits like Annie Oakley wore on her TV show.”

With her rodeo roots and country music career, McEntire slipped into the role and received acclaim from critics for her portrayal. So, in the end, McEntire may not have become a crossover artist, but she’s definitely much more than a country star.

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