Exclusive: Reba McEntire Talks Country Music's Evolution On LGBT Acceptance

Earlier this week, the Queen of Country, Reba McEntire, released her 27th studio album, Love Somebody. It's not only McEntire's first new album in over five years, it's her first album as a newly signed flagship artist for Nash Icon Records.

After four decades in the industry, how does Reba discern between a good song and a song worthy of a spot on her album? "It's not about the specific song," she told us. "It's just a quality you hear in it, you don't have to hear it a second time even, you just know."

Reba is also known as a titan of the stage and screen, having appeared in the monster flick Tremors, on the small screen on her hit series Reba and on Broadway in the revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Will we ever see her back on stage any time soon? "Absolutely. It's all a matter of the right script coming along. If you can find the right script for me, I'll be there."

McEntire's LGBT fan base–and the innumerable drag impersonations she's inspired–has been unwavering throughout her career. "It's not something I ever expected, but something I certainly embrace. I've always held the belief that people should not pass judgment on how others want to live their lives."

Country music's sordid history of anti-LGBT propagation seems to be taking a turn with the recent coming out of artists like Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman and the outpouring of support from fellow country artists like LeAnn Rimes and Chely Wright (who herself faced enormous backlash when she came out in 2010).

Does Reba agree? "I sure hope so. I think it certainly has as people start to understand the importance of not judging one another. I'd like to think it's evolved."

One subject that perks Reba up is the mere mention of her granddaughter River Rose, whose mother is none other than Kelly Clarkson. "She's the best. She takes River everywhere with her. One of the best experiences I've had was co-headlining a tour with Kelly in 2008. I couldn't be prouder to call her my daughter-in-law."

So with over 90 major awards won (including two Grammy Awards) is there anything still left on Reba's bucket list? "Of course. I would love to do a variety show for television or possibly an authentic western movie, that'd be fun."

Reba's new album Love Somebody is available now on iTunes and streaming on Spotify.

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