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SOURCE: Country Weekly 6/16/98

TITLE:Trip Down Under puts Reba on top of the World.

Author:N/A

 

Energized by her triumphant tour of Australia, Reba McEntire's
busting out all over this month with a new album, new single, new
video and a new tour with Brooks & Dunn.

A TV movie and plans for more tours to Ireland and Asia give Reba
even more irons in the fire.

"Right now the album and the upcoming tour are on the front
burner," she says. "The movies are on the back burner just a little
bit. It's what has to be prioritized." Reba's excited about her new
12-cut enhanced CD, If You See Him.

"The technology now is mind-boggling,"she says. The album includes computer access to RebaNews, Reba screen savers, a Reba Browser with web site
links, spectacular new photos of Reba, videos, tour information,
merchandise sales, chat rooms, interactive pictures and footage
from her 1997 tour.

Fans with CD-ROM drives can witness behind-the-scenes action,
move around Reba's dressing room and take a 360-degree journey
through the packed auditorium.

But for all the bells and whistles, Reba's priority is still the music.
"I've put my heart and soul into all of these songs like never
before," she says.

And she got help from producer David Malloy, who's worked with
Mindy McCready, Dolly Parton and Eddie Rabbitt. Malloy inspired
Reba to reach higher. "He'd walk in the booth where I was singing
and say, 'Try to go up instead of staying straight on that note right
there, and do that harmony line.' I'd say, 'OK!' Nobody before ever
played with my vocals like that and gave me ideas when I was
doing my overdubs."

Reba would sing with the band, then try two or three more versions
to do it better. Then she'd live with the song for a couple of weeks
before going back to the studio without the band to sing it again.

"David would say, 'Your voice is so open today -- it's so round, the
quality's great.'"

But Malloy was quick to softly criticize if he thought the superstar
could do better. "One day he said, 'Reba, I don't know what's
wrong. It could be the allergies, it could be you're tired. Let's stop
and quit for the day.' That never happened before. No stress. No
worries. Just go do something else.

"It's a great experience and I love working with David. He doesn't
know how to read charts and I don't either. So it's kind of like the
band on one side and us on the other, but we still have so much
fun communicating in our little heathen way."

In addition to the new album, the hit single with Brooks & Dunn, "If
You See Him/If You See Her," and the upcoming CBS-TV movie
Forever Love, Reba still manages to get in quality family time with
her husband-manager Narvel Blackstock, 8-year-old son Shelby
and her stepchildren.

"We had a real nice Mother's Day dinner. Just to have family
around, I just don't see how I did without it for so long. Glad I didn't
miss out on it."

Reba describes Australian fans as "a mixture of Canadians and
Americans. Only one night were they rowdy. The electricity went
off at one of the shows right when Kenny Rogers and I were fixing
to go on, and so they opened the bar. By the time we went on at
8:30, they were really nice.

"Usually, they'll sit and you can hear a pin drop, and that's great
because both Kenny and I talk a lot and tell stories between
songs. So it was wonderful. The crowds were a lot bigger than if I
had gone by myself, and I thank Kenny Rogers for letting me go
down there with him."

The Australian whirlwind has Reba looking to cross more borders
with her music. "I want to go hit Ireland -- I've never done that.
Kathy Mattea really did love it and speaks very highly of it. They
love her over there and they love Garth. I'm Scotch Irish, and I've
been to Scotland.

"But I want to go to Ireland real bad and introduce myself and my
music to the people over there. After Ireland, we'd like to go to the
Orient."

With all the time demands, Reba still plans to spend a chunk of it
pursuing her career as an actress. Forever Love is set to air this
fall, and she's already looking over more screenplays for future
roles.

Flying to dates rather than using a bus has prolonged Reba's
concert career. "If I was still on the bus, I think I'd be sick of it and
would probably quit. But I'm not going to quit now. I didn't enjoy the
bus, I didn't like the diesel smell and I couldn't sleep well.

"I've been flying for almost 10 years now and I get to be home and
have more family life -- I get to kind of have my cake and eat it,
too."