It was everything you would want a night at the Opry to be, as Reba McEntire celebrated the fortieth anniversary of her first performance “in the circle” on Friday night.
Reba’s fellow Country-Music-Hall-of-Famers Vince Gill , Connie Smith and Bobbie Bare had already graced country music’s most famous stage, as a video intro rolled, looking back on Reba’s decades of Opry appearances and memorable looks.
“That was hysterical and I heard ya’ll laughing at my big hairdo jacked up to Jesus,” she joked, after opening with the Ray Price classic, “Invitation to the Blues.”
The Oklahoma native’s mom Jackie, her sister Susie and her brother Pake were all in the audience, just as they’d been back in 1977, when Reba first appeared on the Opry stage.
“I couldn’t have done it without you, and I wouldn’t have wanted to,” Reba said emotionally, before delivering the #1 she sang as she became an Opry member in 1986, “Somebody Should Leave.”
By the time Reba finished the first few lines of “Does He Love You,” most of the audience had begun to suspect who would play the duet’s other female role. Carrie Underwood re-emerged to major applause, after appearing for a surprise Opry set just moments earlier.
“Here we are just two little ole girls from Oklahoma getting to be on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry!” Reba exclaimed, before launching into “Oklahoma Swing” with another Okie, Vince Gill.
The biggest surprise of the night was to come, as Vince tossed to a video clip that seemed to be malfunctioning. In truth, it was all a distraction, as Dolly Parton emerged to congratulate Reba, bringing on a cake and leading the crowd in singing “Happy Anniversary” to the night’s honoree, changing the last line to her signature “I Will Always Love You.”
Reba closed her unforgettable 40th anniversary show at the Opry with a fiery rendition of “Fancy.”
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