Country superstar Reba McEntire shares some insight with those who think Christian churchgoers don't have fun, as she gears up to release her first gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, McEntire shared her faith journey, her inspiration behind her gospel album and talked passionately about what Jesus really means to her.
In 2015, McEntire announced her divorce from her husband of more than 20 years. The singer credits God and her Christian faith for getting her through the split. Shortly after, McEntire signed a new deal with Nash Icon Records and her label teamed up with Capitol Christian Music Group for the release of Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
The album was co-produced by McEntire, band leader-musical director Doug Sisemore and Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts in his home studio. It highlights traditional well-known Christian hymns throughout the first 10 songs and then transitions into sincere, well-written and produced original contemporary tracks.
Below is an edited transcript of McEntire's interview in which she shares her heart for the Lord, advice for unbelievers and her testimony of faith.
Christian Post: Can you share with us what was your coming to Christ moment?
McEntire: I really don't know when that moment was because I've always known the Lord. Ever since I was a little bitty girl, grandma would read from the Bible and read us Bible stories. I talked to Susie (McEntire's sister) about this a while back and we were in the same agreement. We've known the Lord forever. There's not been a time where it was like - "Oh this is our Jesus story;" it's just always been there for us.
CP: What would you say was different about writing an album directed toward God and your faith?
McEntire: Nothing, there's nothing I did different in this album than the way I approach other albums; it's just finding more gospel-based music. A lot of the songs I sing in country-based music could be spiritual or secular. There's a lot of songs that I've done that are almost spiritual songs. Just this album itself was trying to find the best that touched my heart so that when I sing it, it'll touch your heart too.
The difference is, Doug Sizemore, my co-producer, brought this up, he said that I sounded different. That I would sing the songs different. I guess because they touched my heart so much that I was moved to the core of my soul with the songs.
CP: What would you say to people in the mainstream world that have a negative outlook on Christianity?
McEntire: I just feel like the people who are discouraged about religion, it's [really] the connotation of people that go to church. People that go to church love the Lord and they like to be around people who love the Lord. It's a fellowship and it's a growth and it's a feeding for them that when they're in a social group of people who believe, it makes them grow spiritually.
People who don't believe in the religious connotation feel like if they're in the religious sector in that group that they will not be able to have any fun anymore. I totally disagree with that theory. I don't see where it has to be black or white. Why can't it just be in the middle? And everybody still have a great time talking about the Lord, enjoying that fellowship in a group Bible study and still enjoy life. Why can't it be in the middle where everybody is comfortable? Loving the Lord, praising everything that He does for us, and just loosen up.
CP: Why would you encourage people to turn to God as some of your songs on your new album suggest?
McEntire: I can't imagine living a life without God in my life. He is my best friend, He's my buddy, He's the one that I talk to when there's no one around. I talk to Him when people are around a lot too. He's my confidant, He's my advisor, He's my director. I just don't know why you wouldn't want that in your life. He's just like a bodyguard, He is your protector.
He does neat things for my entertainment, and my enjoyment. I got in the car the other day and I was driving and I turn the corner and there was the most beautiful rainbow. And I was like, "Wow, thanks for letting me see that." It's just the beautiful things that I get to see and hear and smell. One of the songs says, "There is a God, how much more proof do you need?"
CP: In the song "God and My Girlfriends," you talk about having a community that helps you overcome difficult times. Can you talk about the importance of a faith-based community?
McEntire: This song "God and My Girlfriends" is a song that I thought I could release as a country record. I've had it for probably six years and I thought, "Man this is a great song." But it just never did make the cut before this gospel album, it was perfect for it.
Because of the last two years I've had some difficult times going through the divorce, and my relationship with God and my faith in God has helped me tremendously. And not only has God helped me but my girlfriends have helped me. They've been there for me — to help me vent and talk through stuff. So this song fit me perfectly; it's almost autobiographical for me.
CP: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
McEntire: I'm glad that I've got this opportunity to record an album. I thank Nash icon at capitol Christian music records for allowing me to do this because it is something that I've always wanted to do. I didn't do it in the past because my little sister sings gospel music and she's had several albums out and so I'm really grateful that I got to do this. I hope everybody enjoys the album as much as I have enjoyed to record it.
Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope will be available on Friday, Feb. 3. For more information about the album, visit Reba.com.