Reba McEntire Grew Up Singing on Family Road Trips – and We Love This Tradition
There's no doubt that there's a lot of talent in the McEntire family. While Reba McEntire is the most famous of the clan, her father was a respected singer and her older brother, Pake, and younger sister, Susie, have plenty of fans of their own—and their singing skills were honed in the back seat of the car on the family road trips.
When the McEntire clan set out from their cattle ranch in Chockie, Oklahoma, mom and dad sat up front and the four kids were crammed into the back seat, which any parent can tell you is the perfect recipe for arguments, thrown elbows, and bad moods. The family all loved music, which could keep spirits up during long rides, but the family car didn't have a radio or when it did have a radio, they were so far out in the country, sometimes it couldn't pick up a station, according to Tulsa World. That lead to some serious grumblings from the back seat and a few from the driver's seat, too.
Jackie McEntire had a plan, though. To keep her four kids—Reba, Pake, Susie, and Alice—happy and entertained on those long drives through the South, when the radio wasn't an option. She taught her children how to sing in three-part harmony to help pass the time. It was a skill that paid off, because three of those back-seat singers went on to become professionals.
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The family turned their love of harmonizing into a record, too. Reba, Pake, and Susie went into an Oklahoma City studio together to record the song, "The Ballad of John McEntire," when Reba was just 12 years old, according to The Boot. After that first time in the studio, the young singers were off. Pake and Susie had respected musical careers, while Reba, of course, went on to the top of the country charts and later became a TV star.
The family singers reunited recently to honor their father, Clark McEntire, the driver on those family road trips. He was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Great Westerners, in recognition of his career as a champion steer roper and cowboy. He won world championships in 1957, 1958 and 1961 and holds the record for being the youngest competitor (19) to win the all-around title at Oregon's Pendleton Round-Up. While Susie was asked to sing the national anthem at the induction ceremony, all four kids and their mother were there, perhaps remembering what it was like to be in the back seat of the car again with their dad at the wheel and everyone singing in harmony.