Reba McEntire celebrated the 40th anniversary of her Grand Ole Opry debut with two shows last night (Sept. 22)—and two surprise guests: Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood.
If was a full circle moment for Reba, as she was upstaged by Dolly during her Opry debut on Sept. 17, 1977.
“First time I ever sang on the Grand Ole Opry was September 17, 1977,” said Reba earlier this year, “and I was supposed to sing two songs, but they came to me when I got there and said, ‘We’re gonna have to cut you down to one song because Dolly Parton just pulled up into the driveway, and she’s gonna take one of your songs.’ I said, ‘Okay, she can take both of them. Can I meet her?’”
“I just wanted to give it back to you tonight,” said Dolly from the Opry stage, “and say hello and congratulations and how much I love you.”
Carrie surprised the audience with an unannounced performance of three songs before Reba joined her to duet on “Does He Love You.”
“It’s always an honor to be on this stage, especially tonight,” said Carrie. “You are an inspiration to us all.”
Vince Gill, who hosted Reba’s 40th anniversary celebration, also shared some sweet sentiments from the stage.
“She’s an old, sweet, dear friend of mine. There’s not many people you can guarantee they’ve got your back. And this is one of my best friends in the world.”
Onstage, Reba reflected on her debut 40 years earlier, saying, “It was a lot of fun. It was nerve-wracking. It was scary. This means the world to me. It’s been a wonderful 40 years. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I wouldn’t have wanted to.
Check out some photos courtesy of Rachael Black/Grand Ole Opry.
all photos by Rachael Black/Grand Ole Opry