In a genre where Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert are reigning the charts, Reba McEntire feared that her days as recording artist may be over. Encouraged by her husband, McEntire has decided to give making a new album another go.
She admits, she thought her recording days might be in the past. "I figured it was over," she concedes, adding that it was her husband, Narvel Blackstock, who convinced her she had more music to share. "[He] kept saying, 'No, it's not; you'll record again.' And I was like, 'Wow, where's your crystal ball?'"
Now back in the studios recording, McEntire is planning for her first album in partnership with Big Machine Label Group and Cumulus Media. This new set, with no planned release date yet, is the followup to her last studio album, 'All the Women I Am,' which was released in 2010.
"One thing we are sticklers about is keeping the emotion - not to make it perfect. I want it to feel heartfelt - lots of soul with it," she explains to Billboard. "With the technology nowadays and our engineers being so incredible, you can say, 'I want to sing that,' and they're ready, or then, 'I want to sing it again,' and they're ready. There are overdubs, you can comp it, and you can make it just right."
While that kind of imperfect music is rarely heard on the airwaves these days, McEntire insists she isn't worried about finding her place in the landscape of country music.
"The way I compete is in trying to find the best songs possible, and if they stand up, then we've done our job - and if they don't, then we need to work harder," she explains. "That's something I've never been afraid of - is to try harder. When I see where I've failed, I don't let it beat me up, I take it as constructive criticism, go forward and try to improve on that."
The 59-year-old says the new project is as diverse as her 40-year career has been.
"We've got the greatest writers in the world here in Nashville," McEntire boasts. "It's such a huge thrill for me to have this outlet to get these songwriters' stories out to the public. I'm the conduit from their heart and soul to the fans. We've got happy, sad, slow, fast songs. We've got a drinking song in there, and for the first time in a long time, we've got a ... love song. I don't have many of those, so I'm really tickled."