There isn’t a lot left for Reba McEntire to wish for when she blows out the candles on her birthday cake. The country music star, who turns 64 on March 28, has it all: success, love, health and the confidence to finally live her life on her own terms.
“She loves the wisdom of getting older, but not the aches and pains,” quips a friend to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now, who adds that the performer is “happier now than she’s ever been.”
While she has many reasons to be grateful, Reba can largely thank herself for the joy in her personal life and the vitality of her high-flying career. After her husband-manager left her four years ago, Reba rebuilt her life from the ground up. She took the reins of her music career, found new love and surrounded herself with people who make her feel good.
“Reba really learned that she can stand on her two feet, that she doesn’t and never really did need a man to take care of her,” confides the friend. Her romance with retired geologist Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo, which began two years ago, continues to make her happy. The pair like to spend time vacationing together in exotic places like South Africa and Iceland.
“Reba loves nature, hiking and taking pictures,” says the insider. But don’t ask the country star about marriage! Although Reba finds Skeeter to be a great travel partner, she’s content without a wedding ring. “She loves having him in her life, but she’s been married twice,” says the friend. “The words ‘marriage’ and ‘husband’ are a bit tricky for her now.”
Who can blame Reba for feeling a little reluctant to marry again? Four years ago, her ex-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock blindsided the singer with his demand for a divorce after 26 years of marriage. The confusion and public humiliation grew worse when Reba found out that Narvel — with whom she has a son, race car driver Shelby Blackstock, 29 — had moved on romantically with one of her closest friends.
“Narvel was her protector, her business partner and manager, and it was really tough on her. She had no idea it was coming,” says the friend, who adds that Reba allowed herself to grieve but not for too long. “She felt sorry for herself for about a month, but then she snapped out of it.”
Today she doesn’t have much to do with Narvel. “They don’t really talk,” the insider confides. She’s also turned those old feelings of hurt into music. Her new album, Stronger Than the Truth, features several songs about heartbreak, betrayal and redemption that are likely to resonate with her millions of fans.
“When I started selecting songs for this album, I stuck with that same formula — go with the songs that touch my heart, and hopefully when you hear me singing it, they’ll touch yours, too,” Reba recently said in a press release about her album that’s scheduled to drop on April 5.
Two days later, she will host the Academy of Country Music Awards for the 16th time. “The hardest part of doing an awards show is finding the clothes,” Reba recently joked on the Rachel Ray Show. She also said she’ll make several quick changes during the ACM Awards.
Her summer will also be busy with a tour and shows in Las Vegas with Brooks & Dunn. “Reba still loves her music and her artistry and is truly grateful for her devoted fans,” says the friend. “Her faith has been strengthened by her troubles. Reba knows she has a privileged life.”
For more on Reba McEntire, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. for more exclusive news!