Some of Reba McEntire‘s earliest childhood memories are of singing with her mother, Jacqueline Smith McEntire. “It’s just something you do, like washing your hands or combing your hair,” says Jacqueline. “My mother sang. My daddy sang, and I passed it on down.”
Reba, 64, who clearly took those sing-alongs to heart, shows appreciation to her mama with “You Never Gave Up on Me” off her latest album, Stronger Than the Truth. “I got the idea because, who besides God has never given up on me?” asks Reba.
Certainly not Jacqueline, 92, a former school teacher and Oklahoma rancher who raised four kids — Alice, Pake, Reba and Susie. “I don’t think there is anything as close as a mother and a child,” says Jacqueline, who has boasted equally about all of her children’s accomplishments. Recalls Reba: “People would say, ‘Oh Jackie, aren’t you proud of Reba?’ [She’d reply] ‘All my kids are good. I love every one of ’em.'”
Reba, the third child born to Jacqueline and her late husband, Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer Clark McEntire, inherited her mother’s red hair and love of a good song. “[Reba] always liked attention,” confides Jacqueline, who insists she always knew her daughter would hit it big. “I knew she had the desire and the stability.”
Reba initially chose “You Never Gave Up on Me” for her 2017 gospel collection. Although it didn’t make the cut, she couldn’t forget it. “That’s a great song for my mama,” she remembers thinking.
Recorded in one emotional take, Reba unveiled it to Jacqueline last Christmas. “I sent the lyrics, so she’d be able to make sure she heard every word,” says Reba. “She cried. She loved it. But I meant it with all my heart.”
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