Remember Reba McEntire’s First Big National Anthem Performance, 50 Years Ago?
There's good reason why Reba McEntire looked like such a polished pro while she was performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday night (Feb. 11). She's got half a century of experience!
That's right: 50 years before she graced Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium to perform the Super Bowl's National Anthem in 2024, McEntire was performing the same patriotic classic for the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City, Okla.
It wasn't just a regular gig for McEntire, either. In fact, that NFR anthem performance would be the catalyst for her entire country music career.
According to Ken Burns' Country Music PBS documentary, McEntire booked a gig to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 1974 National Finals Rodeo, one year after she graduated from high school in 1973. At the time, she had been performing with her siblings in the Singing McEntires for years, but the anthem gig was more high profile than anything she'd done before.
It was at that event that cowboy, singer and actor Red Steagall first saw McEntire perform, and he knew immediately that she had the makings of a star. He financed a recording session for her to cut some demos in Nashville, and those songs led her to her first deal, with Mercury Records, in 1975.
Leading up to the 2024 Super Bowl, McEntire hopped on social media to share throwback footage of that fateful 1974 National Anthem performance, joking, "This ain't my first rodeo!"
Press play below to watch a young McEntire sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the National Finals Rodeo.
McEntire's Super Bowl gig in 2024 was one of three patriotic performance before the show: Andra Day gave a rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Post Malone sang "America the Beautiful."
Including McEntire's 2024 performance, the Super Bowl has now booked country stars to sing the anthem for four years running. Chris Stapleton, Mickey Guyton and Eric Church all graced the field in recent years.