At the end of a Universal Music Group Nashville showcase Thursday for attendees of Country Radio Seminar, a duet by Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood of their hit “The Fighter” appeared to be the climax. But UMG had a surprise in store: an announcement that country superstar Reba McEntire was re-joining her original label home, MCA Nashville, where she was signed for 32 years, from the ’70s all the way up through 2007.
McEntire declared her glee at being back with the company that has the vast majority of her catalog. She followed the announcement with a bluegrass-based mini-set that included a climactic acoustic version of “Fancy” — the antithesis of her ultimate-glitz version of the same tune at the CMA Awards, which she hosted three months ago.
For the last 11 years, McEntire had been with the Big Machine Label Group, which released her most recent album, the critically acclaimed “Stronger Than the Truth,” last April.
McEntire had 33 of her 35 No. 1 singles at Mercury Nashville and then MCA Nashville.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be back with the family where I started,” McEntire said in a statement. “I am thrilled because my catalog is here at Universal and I’m really excited to revisit all the songs that I recorded many years ago. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Said UMG Nashville President Cindy Mabe, “At a time when our music, our community and our artists need a bright guiding light, Reba returning to the place where it all started is a great testament to her continuing impact and her powerful musical legacy and we are so proud she’s coming home. Reba is a music icon who changed culture and paved her own path by making strong empowering musical statements throughout her career through her songs, her videos, her fashion, her shows and her persona. She’s inspired so many generations of fans and there is so much more impact to be made. It is our honor and privilege to get to collaborate and grow the future of Reba’s musical career.”
McEntire begins her first arena tour since 2011 on March 20, and has set 24 new dates this year for her ongoing co-headlining residency with Brooks & Dunn at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Besides being unusually visible as the host or co-host of the CMA and/or ACM Awards in recent years — and both, last year — McEntire was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 2018.