It’s hard to believe this was the first time Reba McEntire ever played a full show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Dressed casually in a brown fringe shirt, skinny jeans and brown boots—looking ever the superstar—the fiery redhead commanded the historic stage in the first of two performances Wednesday (Feb. 15) during her matinee show.
The concert kicked off with Reba singing an a capella version of “Jesus Loves Me,” followed by “I Got the Lord on My Side,” from her new gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope—the latter tune written by Reba and her mother, Jacqueline.
“This year marks my 41st year in the music business,” Reba told the audience. “It also marks the first time I ever recorded an inspirational gospel album. I believe that timing is everything and everything happens for a reason and this year is no different. This album is called Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope—I can’t do without those two things,” Reba said choking back tears. “So thank you all so much for the kind reception that we’ve been getting off of this album so far. It’s touched my heart more than you know.”
As Reba wiped away tears, after receiving her first standing ovation of the afternoon for a powerful performance of “Back to God,” she told the crowd that she needed to liven up the show and broke into a medley of uptempo hits like Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” “Walk On,” and “I’d Rather Ride Around With You.”
One of the funniest moments of the show came when Reba launched into her 2009 No. 1 hit, “Consider Me Gone,” sensing something was amiss after completing the first verse.
“Hold it, hold it. I came in too early on that song didn’t I?” she said stopping her band. “I’m gonna pull an Adele,” referring to Adele’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards where she stopped mid-song during her tribute to George Michael. “I guess if Adele can do it, I can too.” The crowd erupted in laughter and cheers before Reba flawlessly performed the song.
For two hours the Oklahoma native had the crowd in the palm of her hands with songs like “Because of You,” Turn on the Radio,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and the oh-so-popular Linda Davis duet, “Does He Love You”—which she performed with her backup singer—during a rendition that brought the audience to its feet for the second time. And while the crowd was hoping for an appearance by Linda, it was not to be. Linda didn’t make it out to the afternoon matinee, but she did grace the crowd during the evening performance later that night, along with Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood and The Isaacs.
It was songs like “Take It Back,” “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” “Is There Life Out There” and “I’m a Survivor” that closed out the show for the queen of country.
“Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if Barbara Jean [Melissa Peterman’s character on the TV show Reba] walked out right now? She’s not here but that would be funny,” the singer joked before breaking into the theme song from her popular WB network show, Reba.
After Reba exited the stage, the audience remained on their feet chanting, “Reba!, Reba!, Reba!,” until the legendary singer returned, decked out in a red-fringed sequined dress—reminiscent of her famous 1993 CMA red dress—for an encore of her most recognizable hit, “Fancy.”
There was not a patron left sitting in their seats as they danced in the aisles until the very last note was sung. That’s when the entertainer on the stage, in the fancy red dress, turned and departed into the darkness.
It was at that moment, we were all reminded of the reason Reba McEntire has sustained a career in country music for 41 years—she’s simply the best!
Set List for Reba’s Ryman Auditorium Matinee Show
“Jesus Loves Me”
“I Got The Lord On My Side”
“Can’t Even Get The Blues”
“Fear of Being Alone”
“Whoever’s In New England”
“Back To God”
“God and My Girlfriends”
“Just Like Them Horses”
“Going Out Like That”
“You’re No Good”
“The Heart Is Lonely Hunter”
“I’d Rather Ride Around With You”
“The Greatest Man I Never Knew”
“Swing Low Sweet Chariot”
“Consider Me Gone”
“Because of You”
“Turn On The Radio”
“The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”
“Does He Love You”
“Take It Back”
“Why Haven’t I Heard From You”
“I’m a Survivor”
“Is There Life Out There”
Photos courtesy of Reba’s Business, Inc.