Review: Reba McEntire Thrills With Hits, New Gospel Songs at Ryman Auditorium
Reba McEntire performed her first-ever shows at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday (Feb. 15), celebrating the recent release of her newest album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. The country icon performed two shows on Wednesday, adding a second after the first one sold out in minutes, and The Boot was there to see her in action during her matinee performance.
Clad in a shimmering copper shirt with a cross emblazoned on the front, black pants and cowboy boots, McEntire kicked off her two-hour set with an a cappella version of “Jesus Loves Me,” followed by “I Got the Lord on My Side.”
“”Jesus Loves Me” was the first song I ever sang,” McEntire told the crowd, recalling how she performed the tune in the lobby of a hotel when she was a little girl and her family was traveling for the rodeo. She earned a nickel for her short set.
McEntire included a number of her earlier hits in her Ryman matinee set as well, including “Fear of Being Alone,” “One Promise Too Late,” “How Blue,” “Whoever’s in New England” and “Little Rock,” taking the crowd on a melodic trip down memory lane.
“This is my 41st year in the music business, and it’s also the first time I’ve ever recorded an inspirational gospel album,” 61-year-old McEntire shared from stage. Fighting back tears, she continued, “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.”
McEntire’s rendition of “Back to God” — “You gotta cry rain, tears of pain / Pound the floor and scream His name / Cause we’re still worth savin’ / Can’t go on like this and live like this / We can’t love like this / We gotta give this world back to God” — earned her a standing ovation.
“Somebody at the record label said my whole career has gotten me ready for this album,” McEntire reflected, before pausing to collect a rose from a young child, who reached up onstage to hand it to McEntire, eliciting more tears from the singer.
Next, McEntire sang “God and My Girlfriends,” followed by one of her recent singles, “Just Like Them Horses.” The latter song, McEntire performed at her father’s funeral in 2014.
“I’m very proud of my heritage and where I came from,” McEntire says. “That’s very important to me.”
An energetic rendition of “Going Out Like That;” a medley of “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” “Walk On” and “I’d Rather Ride Around With You;” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” — which McEntire said was requested by both Kix Brooks and her sister Susie — came before a pause to introduce her band. McEntire then began “Consider Me Gone” — but stopped her band mid-song.
“I’m gonna pull an Adele right here,” McEntire quipped, referring to the pop star’s 2017 Grammy Awards performance restart. So, McEntire restarted the song, earning thunderous applause at its end.
As the mid-afternoon concert wound down, McEntire graced the audience with a few more of her hits, including “Because of You,” “Turn on the Radio,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and “Does He Love You.” She capped off the show with “Take It Back” and “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” “I’m a Survivor” and “Is There Life Out There.”
After exiting the stage, McEntire returned for an encore of “Fancy,” which she performed while wearing a shiny red dress and heels.
McEntire does not have any more shows scheduled at the Ryman, but she will return to Las Vegas with her good friends Brooks & Dunn for Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together in Vegas. Their next scheduled show is set for Feb. 22; ticketing details and more information are available on McEntire’s website.
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