Reba McEntire: Almost Quit After Mom's 2020 Passing

Reba's familial bonds deeply influenced her musical journey

by Nouman Rasool
Reba McEntire: Almost Quit After Mom's 2020 Passing
© Noam Galai/GettyImages

Reba McEntire, the renowned country music sensation, revealed a deeply personal struggle in her recent interview on Tuesday's episode of Today. While chatting with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, the 68-year-old artist delved into the emotional aftermath following the passing of her beloved mother, Jacqueline Smith, in 2020.

Smith, who lived a fulfilling 93 years before succumbing to cancer, had been a pillar of strength and inspiration for McEntire. Looking back at cherished memories with her sister Susie, McEntire admitted feeling an overwhelming void and contemplating retiring her microphone.

She confided, "I reflected, 'Maybe I shouldn't sing anymore.' Music was something I primarily shared with Mama." Susie, however, believed in her sister's innate passion and reassured her, saying that her desire to sing would return.

McEntire's Musical Maternal Compass

Jacqueline Smith wasn’t just a mother to McEntire. She was the very essence of music in the McEntire household. Reba reminisced about the days when she, alongside her siblings Pake, Susie, and Alice, were endearingly termed "the singing McEntires" during their formative school years.

Their mother was their fiercest advocate. McEntire, now a judge on The Voice, highlighted, "Mama was our musical compass. She taught us harmony, she instilled in us the love for melodies, and was our guiding critique." One such memory that McEntire fondly shared was how their mother, amidst her daily chores, would step into their rehearsals, wielding a spatula, and would correct any discordant note.

Once satisfied, she’d return to her cooking, leaving behind a room filled with perfect harmonies. Further cementing Jacqueline Smith’s legacy in her life, McEntire’s latest track, "Seven Minutes in Heaven", is a heartfelt tribute to her late mother.

Featured in her fresh-out-the-oven album, Not That Fancy — which coincidentally complements her new book of the identical title — this ballad, penned by Olivia Rudeen and Matt Wynn, resonates with the sentiment: "If I had seven minutes in heaven...

I wouldn't waste a moment questioning God's designs. I'd cherish every second, knowing I'd return soon. But in those seven minutes, it'd be just you and me, Mama."