Reba brings early Christmas cheer

Reba McEntire at The Grand Ole Opry
Reba McEntire at The Grand Ole Opry

REBA McENTIRE is getting into the holiday mode early this year, by releasing a new Christmas album on Friday September 2.

The 61-year-old Oklahoma native, who has become one of American country music’s most durable performers, has signed up with the highly popular Cracker Barrel store/restaurant chain in the United States to produce an 11-track collection, titled My Kind of Christmas

The album features Reba’s version of I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Silent Night, Jingle Bell Rock and White Christmas.

She has released two Christmas records in the past - the first was 1987’s Merry Christmas to You, and the second, in 1999, The Secret of Giving: A Christmas Collection. This will be her 31st career album.

The Christmas album is not the only product Reba is releasing in the Cracker Barrel stores. She will soon have her own line of clothing, home decor, leather-bound goods, jewelry, toys and more featured at the stores across the States.

The pieces are inspired by Reba’s ranch-country roots, having grown up on her family’s farm in Oklahoma, and her own personal style.

Reba started singing in a high school band in Oklahoma, but it was a performance of the American national anthem at a rodeo that caught the attention of agent Red Steagall, who brought her to Nashville.

She hit it big in the charts in 1983 with How Blue and Somebody Should Leave and, as a love balladeer, has not looked back since.

Over three decades, she become one of the most commercially successful singers in country music history, releasing 26 albums, registering 40 No 1 hits and selling more than 80 million records.

She has re-invented herself repeatedly, exploring various styles, starring in Broadway shows and on television and continuing to find new ways to make her mark as a mainstream country singer.

Most recently, Reba was the first artiste signed to Nash Icon, a new label designed to bring classic country stars back into the commercial marketplace.

She is a member of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

* North Carolina man JIM LAUDERDALE is widely recognised as one of American country music’s most talented songwriters, netting several Grammy awards for his outstanding contribution over the past three decades.

Now, Lauderdale is to receive a lifetime achievement accolade from the Americana Music Association, with Texas megastar George Strait to present the Wagonmaster award to him at a ceremony in Nashville next month.

The prestigious lifetime achievement honour, named after the late legendary Porter Wagoner, is reserved for individuals considered to be the most valuable contributors to the heritage of American roots music.

Since his 1991 debut, Jim Lauderdale has recorded 23 studio albums and, in addition to George Strait, he has worked with legends that include Dr Ralph Stanley, Vince Gill, George Jones, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello.

Lauderdale has hosted the Americana awards for 14 years, and he won the Association’s first ‘Artiste of the Year’ award.

His creative relationship with Strait began when the Texan balladeer recorded The King of Broken Hearts and Where the Sidewalk Ends for the Pure Country soundtrack.

George Strait has had more than a dozen other chart hits since with songs from the prolific Lauderdale repertoire.