Reba McEntire

Last year, Reba McEntire merged her two worlds of country music and film

when she released If You See Him, an album that featured two pop-oriented

songs ("Forever Love" and "All This Time") included in her recent TV

movie, "Forever Love."

McEntire's dual success has made her the Whitney Houston of country

music.

McEntire was born on this day in 1955 in McAlester, Okla. Her father

was a rodeo steer-roper; during high school, Reba competed at rodeos as

a barrel racer. She also sang in nightclubs with her siblings as the

Singing McEntires.

While studying to be a teacher in college, McEntire sang the national

anthem at the National Rodeo Finals, where she impressed Red Steagall,

who helped her sign with Mercury Records. McEntire idolized Patsy Cline,

and her emotional delivery is similar to that of the late country legend.

Though McEntire signed with Mercury in the mid-'70s, she didn't have a

country top-10 record until 1980's "(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven." That

song opened the floodgates for a slew of hits, including the #1 "Can't

Even Get The Blues," as well as "I'm Not That Lonely Yet" and "Why Do

We Want (What We Know We Can't Have)."

After switching to MCA Records, McEntire became a superstar.

Whoever's In New England (1986) topped the country chart, as did

the same year's What Am I Gonna Do About You.

Other #1 McEntire LPs included 1989's Sweet Sixteen and 1992's

It's Your Call. Her hit country singles in the latter half of the

'80s included "Love Will Find Its Way to You," "The Last One to Know,"

a cover of Jo Stafford's classic "Sunday Kind of Love," and a take on

the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown."

McEntire's singles continued to reach the upper region of the country

singles chart in the '90s. In 1991, tragedy struck when eight members of

her band were killed in the crash of her tour jet. In 1994, she issued

her best-selling autobiography, "Reba: My Story," and the LP Read My Mind.

Also in the '90s, McEntire developed her acting career, appearing in

such films as "Tremors" and "North," in addition to maintaining a busy

touring schedule.

McEntire recorded "If You See Him, If You See Her" with Brooks & Dunn

for the album If You See Him. The record was subsequently

nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration With

Vocals. Her supporting tour with Brooks & Dunn became the highest-grossing

tour in the history of country music.

McEntire reports on her website (www.reba.com): "It's so nice to be at

the point in life where you don't feel such an urgency to constantly

prove yourself."

McEntire has been awarded four Female Vocalist of the Year awards from

the Country Music Association.

Other birthdays: John Evan (Jethro Tull), 51; Steve Turner (Mudhoney), 34; and James

Atkin (EMF), 32.