Reba McEntire Remembers Humble Beginnings Before Music Career Took Off

When Reba McEntire first launched her music career, she admits she knew very little about the industry. The daughter of a rodeo champion in rural Oklahoma, McEntire had no idea that her humble beginnings would ever turn into one of the most lucrative and successful careers in country music.

"I did not know anything about the music business," McEntire said in an exclusive video shared with CMT ahead of the Artists of the Year ceremony. "I'm from a ranch and rodeo family. I just thought that when you get a song on the radio, you're rich. My first single was released in '76. I was living in a ten dollar a month rent house in Chockie, Oklahoma. I was playing honkty tonks, and I was so allergic to smoke. I finally stood up to that and said, 'I'm not playing any more honky tonk bars.' My first husband said, 'Well, your career is over.'"

Not only was McEntire's career not over, but she set off an unprecedented string of success that have carried her through more than four decades, and shows no signs of slowing down.

"You've got to be creative, and recreate yourself," McEntire explained. "I think the videos were very important. It was a way to get the songs out to the folks in a different format, other than on the radio. We've worked really hard the past 43 years, to get to be doing what we're doing. I thank the Lord for that, every day, and every time I get on the stage."

McEntire, who is being honored with the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Honor, is filled with gratitude for the career she has already had.

"It's a wonderful life," boasted the 64-year-old. "Wonderful people involved. That's the greatest thing about this whole business."

McEntire, along with Dolly Parton, will help Underwood host the CMA Music Awards on Nov. 13, marking the first time Underwood is hosting without the help of her former co-host, Brad Paisley. The CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.


The CMT Artist of the Year ceremony will also honor Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Luke Combs, Kane Brown and Dan + Shay. Ashley McBryde will receive the CMT Breakout Artist of the Year award. The ceremony will air live from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville at 8 p.m. ET on CMT.

Photo Credit: Getty / Mike Coppola