She remembers it like it was yesterday. Reba McEntire and her sister Susie sitting on the banks of a pond in southeastern Oklahoma.
Fishing poles in hand, the two would sing “Jesus Loves Me,” and wait for the fish to bite. In between singing and giggling, their Grandma Smith would tell them Bible stories. The country music legend vividly remembers hearing about Jonah being swallowed up by the whale.
“That gets your attention,” McEntire recalled, laughing. “The whale, that was something else, like, ‘Really, how did that happen?’ God’s always been in my life. Angels have always been in my life. It’s just the way of life for me.”
Following her 2015 divorce from husband Narvel Blackstock, McEntire knew the only place her heart needed to be was with God. The two had been married for more than 25 years, and leaning on her faith, she pressed into her relationship with the Lord and figured out quickly what her next steps were.
McEntire began recording her new album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. The 22-track album is a mix of gospel classics and new songs, like “Back to God.”
“The project is so special because it illustrates the strength of Reba, taking a chance and singing with a purposeful conviction like never before,” said Jim Weatherson, General Manager of Nash Icon Records.
“This album is a calling for Reba. It is something that has been inside her for years, and she felt passionately that now was the time for her to carry the messages of faith and hope that these songs deliver to her fans.”
Taking things all the way back to where they began, the album’s first track is “Jesus Loves Me.” Another favorite is “How Great Thou Art,” which McEntire said “wrecked me” in the recording studio.
“It was two or three takes before I could sing it straight through,” she said. “It was Grandma’s favorite song and I usually can’t talk about it…but when I listen to it back, here comes the Holy Spirit and he puts his arms around me and I just feel Grandma. It’s just so sweet.”
Also in reference to recording her Grandma’s favorite song, Reba added:
When I got through with singing the song, I would go in there with Doug Sisemore, my co-producer, and Todd Tidwell. We would listen to it and see if I needed to sing it again. And when I was listening to “How Great Thou Art,” the Holy Spirit came over me so strong I would weep, and I would sob, and it was just like, “Wow…why this song?” I didn’t understand why. But more than any of the other ones, it would totally wrap me up.
As far as reaching a new audience, and bringing her existing audience into the presence of the Lord, the Country Music Hall of Famer couldn’t be more excited. She said this album has songs that can be played and used in megachurches and cowboy churches alike, while many of the tracks are still secular enough that they can be played on country radio.
The music video for her newest single, “Back To God,” was just released, and it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful portrayal of love and loss. It lifts up God as the only solution to the troubles of this world, and it carries an important message that we desperately need right now.