Sometimes I struggle being from Oklahoma. Not in a literal sense, but from a moral standpoint. It’s complicated. I moved to New York around three years ago. To say the least, it’s been the best experience of my life.
Although New York offers nearly every experience under the sun, there is one thing missing: real country music. When I got word that Reba McEntire was just going to be two and a half hours north of me in Massachusets, it was a no brainer.
McEntire and her music truly mean the world to me. I’ve been a fan since I was in elementary school. Without going into great detail, my parents divorced when I was six years old. To be honest, I don’t remember all the details, but I still carry the heartache with me.
My mom knew I loved music. One day she brought home a “previously viewed” VHS from the local Blockbuster. I’m sure it was in the sale bin, that’s the only way she could have afforded it. The video was Reba: Live. I couldn’t tell you how many times I watched it. This concert became my safety blanket. My mind did not understand what it was feeling, but McEntire gave a voice and relief to those emotions.
Back to 2019. I found that McEntire was going to be the season closer for Tanglewood in the Berkshires in Lenox, MA. This was not the best financial decision, but once I found a few front row seats left I entered my credit card nearly faster than my fingers could type.
The concert, which took place on Sunday, was phenomenal. McEntire has been in the music game for 43 years. She’s a veteran, but her enthusiasm for her music and the fans has never been lost. She sinks each song like it’s brand new. She opened the concert with “Turn On The Radio,” a track from her 2010 album All The Women I Am. She quickly went into a melody of numerous number-one singles, including one of my all-time favorites “Can’t Even Get The Blues.”
Then came the song that will always pull my heartstrings “Whoever’s In New England.” It was perfection. Shortly after came her 2017 single, “Back to God.” The conviction in her voice was chilling. McEntire sings this song from wisdom and experience.
About 75% of the way through the show, she embarked on the Grammy-winning “Does He Love You.” This song was recorded with Linda Davis in 1993, but a member of McEntire’s band, Jennifer Wrinkle, accompanies McEntire on tour. To my dismay, Wrinkle does not have a solo album. She was superb.
As per McEntire tradition, she closed the show with “Fancy.” This is truly a “bow down to the queen” moment. Once she exits the stage and reemerges in that red dress, her legacy is undeniable. Yet she still meets her audience with humility. There is never a pompous moment. That’s the art of the Reba concert, you leave feeling she is your best friend.
Through all these amazing songs and stories, one moment stands above the rest. As McEntire began to introduce “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” she told the story of her family. It’s impossible to not mention Oklahoma when talking about the McEntire’s. At that moment, in a crazy fan haze, I yelled: “I’m from Oklahoma!” She went on with her conversation. I thought nothing of it.
She then turned around and said “Where are you from in Oklahoma?” and walked straight to me.I told her I was from Lawton and she acknowledged how she knew right where that was. She went on to say that Oklahoma was “so important.” At this moment, in another crazy fan haze, I yelled: “I love you.” Then she looked at me once more and said: “I love you too.”
After the show, as I was reeling from McEntire speaking to me, I felt so much pride. Not in just where I come from, but in how far I’ve come. Although sometimes I am conflicted about my home state, it has given me an unshakeable foundation. I haven’t nearly seen the world like McEntire, but it is surreal that we could connect, even for a moment, over our shared heritage. The spirit of Oklahoma is more than OK, we’re extraordinary.
I’d like for you to take two main points from this article:
1.) Go see Reba McEntire in concert. She’s nothing short of phenomenal.
2.) There is life out there, but Oklahoma and your heritage will always be there when you need ’em.