In 2015, the same year she split with Narvel Blackstock, her husband of 26 years, Reba McEntire released “Going Out Like That,” her hit song about a woman surviving — and thriving — after a painful breakup. “Here comes the life of the party,” she belts about the song’s heroine, who gets her groove back by going out and “dancin’ like the floor’s on fire.” And today, she is finding love again!
Last month, Reba, 62, was living out those lyrics herself. “Rooftop dancing,” she announced in her Dec. 29 Instagram post from her sunny Mexican getaway, grinning ear to ear in a snapshot with a new love interest smiling right beside her.
For weeks, fans had spotted this mystery man alongside the country queen on her social media sites. Then, during his New Year’s Eve concert in Oklahoma, Reba’s good pal Ronnie Dunn confirmed: “she’s got a new boyfriend named Skeeter.” A businessman and photographer, Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo cozied up next to Reba in a Dec. 25 photo in which she wished everyone a Merry Christmas “from our house to yours” as the couple — joined by her son, Shelby Blackstock, 27, and his girlfriend — raised a toast.
“Country music fans are as interested in her as a person as much as an artist,” a friend of Reba’s tells Closer of her going public with this new relationship after her very high-profile heartbreak. “So it’s natural she’d want to show her happiness to tell fans, ‘Hey, I’m OK.’”
She’s taking things slowly, though, as this is her first romance after her emotional split from Narvel, 61. “I think it’s always nice to have somebody to go to dinner with and fall in love with. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all,” Reba says of her cautious approach. Still, the fun she’s clearly having with Skeeter, a widower, has relit a spark in her heart. “It’s great to see Reba back to being her old self: a funny, sassy soul who really enjoys her life again,” an insider reports. Adds the singer, “I’m just kind of winging it and taking it one day at a time. [But] I do want my fans to know that I’m very happy.”
Reba deserves some joy after having to struggle through many dark days in the wake of her October 2015 divorce from Narvel, her business partner and manager. “The divorce was not my idea. I didn’t want it in any shape, form or fashion,” she says of being blindsided by his decision to end their marriage. Ultimately, she had no other choice than to go along with his wishes. “I just thought it was the best thing to take my marbles and go play somewhere else — that’s what my daddy always used to say,” she explains.
Another blow came when Narvel began dating Reba’s longtime friend Laura Putty Stroud. She says God gave her the strength to move on: “Being able to talk to God every day and say, ‘You gotta help me through this. I’m gonna give it all to you.’ And He did.”
Reba, who divorced her first husband, rancher Charlie Battles, in 1987, was eager to take control of her own life for the first time in nearly 40 years. “She wasn’t scared, but she wanted room to breathe and time to figure things out,” the insider says. “It’s incredibly hard to be 60 and have a 26-year marriage end. She had to take stock of her life, where she was headed and what she wanted for her future.”
It took time to work through her self-doubts. “It’s hard not to dwell on the whys and ask yourself, ‘What happened? What did I do wrong?’” Reba admits. “But I knew to move forward, I had to forgive. So I prayed for everybody who hurt me, and then I let it go.” Forgiveness didn’t come easily, but it proved to be a powerful turning point in the singer’s emotional recovery. “It’s the best blessing in the world to give yourself,” Reba insists. “If you forgive, all of that hatred and resentment eating up your heart and your stomach making you sick — all that goes away and it’s replaced with space that is ready to have more love. And you find better relationships.”
Her career helped her heal as well: She committed to more dates with her buddies for the Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together in Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, which is now the longest-running country show in the coliseum’s history. She also launched her own Reba Beauty line and released the 2017 gospel CD Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope, which won Bluegrass/Country/Roots Album of the Year at last year’s Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.
“This album really helped me,” she says, “not only to keep me busy, but to keep me busy on something that is good and positive and healing, which music is. You gotta have faith and hope to carry you through each day.”
Now, things are definitely looking up for the superstar. “Reba honestly never thought she’d be back on the market, dating again,” her friend says, “but she’s more comfortable in her own skin than ever and open to the possibility of falling in love. She knew that when the time was right, the right person would enter her life.”
The fact that Skeeter isn’t in the music business has only helped their romance blossom. “Their relationship is one of companionship, not shop talk,” the friend says, adding that Reba dropped Narvel as her manager soon after they split. “She was ready to oversee her own career and she feels she mixed business with pleasure long enough,” the insider explains, and because she and Skeeter have no shared business between them, she can “let it all hang out and just show her true colors,” adds the friend.
While Reba hasn’t ruled out getting married again someday, her friend insists that walking down the aisle isn’t big on the singer’s list of priorities. “She’s said she has no problem growing old with someone without a wedding ring on her finger,” the insider says, “and she’s certainly not going to get married out of fear or insecurity.”
In fact, Reba is more confident and secure with herself than ever. “When you hit a certain time in your life, you get to breathe and do what you want to do,” she says. “I don’t worry about stuff. I’m at a point where if it’s not fun, I’m just not doing it!”
Music is still a passion, so she’s busy recording her next country CD — her first since her split with Narvel — and she’s also championing a reboot of her hit 2001 until 2007 TV sitcom, Reba. “Everybody was wanting to do that. We’d love it,” she beams. “All the actors are for it, 100 percent!”
And in a case of art imitating life, she even has ideas on what divorcée Reba Hart would be up to. “I think she’d become a travel agent, so she gets to go to all these places to check ’em out,” she says. “Then she goes to this place and falls in love with a guy and tours the world with him.” Considering her travels to Jackson Hole, WY with Skeeter and their romantic getaway to Mexico for the New Year, Reba just may have found herself a new leading man.
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