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The common touch

Reba McEntire is one of the biggest stars in country music.

Reba McEntire is one of the biggest stars in country music. Records, tours, movies, Broadway shows and a popular TV series have made her wealthy beyond most people’s imagination.

But she’s never lost the common touch that made her so popular.

“As my sister says, ‘Reba’s just like everybody else,’”McEntire says in an interview from her Nashville home. “‘She just happens to sing better than a few.’”

That common touch is felt all over the 13 tracks on Keep On Loving You, McEntire’s first solo album in six years.

The current hit single, Consider Me Gone, is a plain talkin’ girl power song with a simple message — treat me right or I’m outta here.

There’s also Eight Crazy Hours (In the Story of Love) about a mom escaping to a cheap motel for a day to get away from an impending nervous breakdown.

“She can’t cope with it anymore,” McEntire, a native of Oklahoma, explains. “So she goes away by herself, deals with it and comes back, picks up a bucket of chicken, the kids from school and she’s back at home ... I think everyone has those kind of days.”

McEntire is now 54 (a rare co-write on the album is called She’s Turning 50 Today), her son is 19 and off to college, and she’s raring to get back on the touring circuit again.

She’s starting off gently, with an appearance Sunday night on Canadian Country Music Awards, broadcast live at 8 p.m. EST from Vancouver’s GM Place. She’s also got some small shows scheduled including two Sept. 24 and 25 at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.

“Canada has always been very very good to me since the early ’80s when we started touring up there,” McEntire says.

In the new year, it’s back to the big arenas, places McEntire ruled during the ’80s and ’90s.

McEntire admits that’s a place she hasn’t been for a while. Her career has been dominated most of the past few years by her successful TV sitcom, Reba, which ran for six seasons before being suddenly cancelled in 2007. She also starred in a successful Broadway run of Annie Get Your Gun.

McEntire, who never trained as an actor, says she’s hoping for another shot at TV.

“It’s on reruns four times a day seven days a week,” she says about her show. “So a lot of people don’t even know that we stopped filming.”

Canadian Country Music Awards
When: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST, on CBC

Host: Jason Priestley

Performers: Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Terri Clark, George Canyon, Richard Marx, Doc Walker, Aaron Pritchett, Emerson Drive, Johnny Reid, Gord Bamford, Paul Brandt, Jann Arden, Victoria Banks, Dean Brody, Tara Oram.

Leading nominees: Johnny Reid (six), George Canyon (five), Victoria Banks (five), Dean Brody and Gord Bamford (four).

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