A superstar country singer for four decades, Reba McEntire knows how to stay relevant and isn't afraid of the Internet.
The 57-year-old country singer and actress, who performs Saturday at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys with opening act Whiskey Dawn, recently surpassed 3 million fans on Facebook. She posts many of the updates herself, with others helping out with announcements about her product lines.
"I tweet and I Facebook," she said in a recent phone interview from L.A. "If there's something about clothing, bedding, luggage or shoes that needs to be talked about, an assistant puts it out. But I go on and answer fans' questions."
McEntire has been able to draw fans who normally don't listen to country music. CMT.com called the Oklahoma native the "greatest crossover star to emerge from country music since Dolly Parton." She has sold more than 56 million albums worldwide, been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, won two Grammy Awards and produced 35 No. 1 hits, including "Turn On the Radio" from her most recent album, 2010's "All the Women I Am." Other No. 1 hits include "You're Gonna Be," "How Blue," "The Last One to Know," "Love Needs a Holiday" and "The Heart Won't Lie."
She has appeared on Broadway ("Annie Get Your Gun), acted in films ("Charlotte's Web," "Tremors" and more) and starred in her TV sitcom, "Reba," from 2001-07 for the WB Network. The show will go into syndication on CMT and ABC Family next month.
"It's a show people can relate to," she said. "We did family stories. Some of the writers would say, 'This is what happened to my aunt last week.' We would say, 'That's a great story.' It's relatable things that really did happen."
This fall, McEntire will star in ABC's new sitcom "Malibu Country," about a divorced woman who moves with her teen children from Nashville to Malibu in an attempt to restart her music career. Lily Tomlin plays her mother.
McEntire said she first learned of the concept a year and a half ago and is glad the show finally will air.
Anyone who follows her Twitter posts knows she is very proud of 22-year-old son Shelby Blackstock's new career as a race-car driver. She said she and her husband, Narvel Blackstock, were shocked when Shelby told them he wanted to drop out of the University of Arizona in Tucson and race. They sent him to a racing school in Phoenix to see if he had some talent and found that he did. He now races USF2000 Car No. 8 with Andretti Autosport and Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge No. 51 Boss 302R Mustang with Roush Performance in GS class. McEntire loves watching him race but she said it does make her a little nervous.
"The adrenaline is pumping," she said. "When you've got that many cars flying down the track and you know that turn's coming and everybody's coming and there's going to be a bottleneck, all you can see is your little baby racing."
McEntire also posts a lot on her social media sites about her good friend Kelly Clarkson, whom she met when the two sang together on the first season of "American Idol," which Clarkson won. Over the past 10 years, they have toured together, appeared on CMT's "Crossroads" together started hanging out and taking vacations together.
"She's so young and so talented and so smart that she just amazes me," McEntire said. "She tickles me, she entertains me, we both love to play games and have something in common."
Now, Clarkson is dating McEntire's stepson Brandon. McEntire said she would love to have Clarkson as part of her family.
She said she's really enjoying all aspects of her life these days. "This has been one of the most fun years I've had in my entire life getting to really watch Shelby and hang out with my kids."
She's looking forward to performing at Ironstone Vineyards and playing a mix of music from her entire career with her band. By incorporating medleys, she will be able to fit in 27 of her songs. "I still love to tour," she said. "Live audiences are the best."
Whiskey Dawn, a country band out of Sacramento, is joining her as an opening act for this show only. Troy Ferris, the lead singer and songwriter, said the band is thrilled to open for McEntire. "Reba's A-list," he said.
The band has built up a big following on the West Coast and is heard on radio stations 101.9 and 105.1 FM in Sacramento. The group independently released the album "Dear Nashville" and has sold more than 10,000 units. In a couple of weeks, Ferris and half the other band members will move to Nashville.
"It's time to shoot for our major-label deal," Ferris said. "We make a great living and we tour the West Coast and we have a great fan base out here. We get the best gigs. It's a nice life. But you want to shoot for the top, you want the big deal."Ironstone Vineyards gets its twang on with a concert featuring country queen Reba McEntire and Sacramento band Whiskey Dawn
Reba McEntire and Whiskey Dawn
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Ironstone Vineyards, 1894 Six Mile Road, Murphys
CALL: (209) 728-1251