ANAHEIM, Calif. — Country star and actress Reba McEntire can’t wait to bring her full stage show — her live band, backup singers and opening acts Terri Clark and The Isaacs — to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for the first time.
Though she’s graced the stage a couple of times before — during a Broadway performance of “South Pacific” back in 2007 and in 2012 she was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame alongside Chaka Khan during a special tribute evening hosted by Julie Andrews — she’s never performed a proper headlining show at the venue in her nearly five-decade career.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said during a recent phone interview ahead of her West Coast shows at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert on March 31 and her Hollywood Bowl debut on April 1. “I’ve always loved the Hollywood Bowl. It’s wonderful and just the best place to see a show.”
Back when she was filming her sitcoms, “Reba” from 2001-2007 and “Malibu Country” in 2012-2013, in the Los Angeles area, she’d gone to several shows at the Hollywood Bowl.
“I saw Annie Lennox and Sting perform there together (in 2004) and I was a huge fan, so it was fun to watch them in that atmosphere,” she said. “There’s just so much history there with all of the performances that have happened … it’s just iconic and we’re happy to be part of it.”
McEntire, who is such a legend she is commonly referred to by first name alone, is currently out on the final leg of her Reba: Live in Concert Tour. With 35 No. 1 career singles under her belt, it was difficult, she said, to narrow down a set list for this outing.
“We did a lot of research to see which songs fans want to hear and we put them together for a good-flowing show that has a lot of energy,” she said. “And we like to bring it back down and make it intimate and then let it get big again. It has to be like a roller coaster of emotions. I’ll never forget when I was doing a concert tour with George Strait, after the first show I said ‘George, you didn’t do ‘The Chair.’ And he said ‘Yeah, I’m not doing it.’ I said, ‘But why? That’s my favorite song!’ Then I thought about how many times people have come up to me and said ‘Why didn’t you do ‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia’ that’s my favorite song!’ We just have to leave some of them out.”
Though her most recent album of original material, “Stronger Than the Truth,” came out in 2019, she released a box set in 2021, “Revived Remixed Revisited,” with reworked versions of her songs that truly helped her hone in on a set list for the road.
“That gave us the opportunity to do something different,” she said. “Like ‘Consider Me Gone,’ it’s a real uptempo song, but recording it with Dave Cobb when it’s stripped down with less instrumentation, it’s so much more emotional. It changed the song completely and I perform it now and so many people are singing along to it. I could hold the microphone out and let them sing the whole song. It’s fun when people know and love a song enough to know it by heart and to sing it along with me.”
In the past, McEntire has said that her 1990 cover of the Bobbie Gentry song “Fancy” is her favorite to perform live. She stands by that now.
“It’s very powerful,” she said of the audiences roaring back the line “I might have been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was my name.”
“It’s the rags to riches song,” she continued. “She prevails and it was a rough road and not everyone approved of the way she got her success, of course, but it’s about survival. That song goes right along with my song ‘I’m a Survivor.’ That’s another one I have near the end of my show and when I play it people will stand up and hold up their diplomas to show me that after they got their kids through school, they went back and go their education. So those are songs I love to sing and I’ll never get tired of them because they’re great songs. I didn’t write them, so I can sure brag on about it. Kudos to those songwriters.”
Having opened for everyone from Red Steagall, Conway Twitty and Lee Greenwood to The Oak Ridge Boys and being out on the Urban Cowboy Tour with Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee, McEntire is also encouraging her fans to show up early for her support act, singer-songwriter Terri Clark, who is known for ‘90s hits like “Better Things To Do,” “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” and “Girls Lie Too,” and opening act The Isaacs, a bluegrass and Southern gospel family group.