Reba McEntire: The gay interview

Reba2Even by phone, Reba McEntire makes you feel right at home. “Thanks for the visit; I’ve enjoyed visitin’ with you!” the singer drawls, wrapping up our conversation as if I’d just stopped by for buttered grits and a cup of hot coffee.

A music, television, film and theater superstar with a trove of prestigious awards, Reba is enormously famous, but talking to her, you wouldn’t know it. She comes across more like a friend. Fancy? Not so much. And she certainly won’t let her rabid gay following down – she has delighted in a friendship with the LGBT community since the beginning of her 40-year career.

Now, as she releases her 27th studio album, Love Somebody, the country icon’s ready to take some serious stands.

In a chat with Chris Azzopardi, Reba stresses the importance of gay marriage, how sad it is to know that some country artists feel they can’t come out, and her message to parents who can’t accept a child who’s not straight.

Dallas Voice: You grew up in a town with, like, 16 people and lots of cows. I imagine there weren’t a lot of gay people in Chockie, Okla.  Reba: Nope, nope. Not at all that I know of, or in high school. I guess in college was the first time I was around any gay people, and they became my friends first and then I found out they were gay, so there ya go! Didn’t change my opinion of ’em; I still liked ’em a lot.

One was a very dear friend of mine who helped me a lot with my singing and my music, and he was just a super sweet, gentle man who loved music with all his heart. I’m pretty sure that was my first introduction, the first time I met anyone who was gay.

As a longtime ally, how important are LGBT equality and same-sex marriage rights to you?  Very important. I just went to my first gay wedding a couple of months ago in California for Michael and Steven, my two great friends. They’ve been together for 20 years! I thought that it was not fair, and I didn’t understand why they couldn’t get married. It wasn’t because they just wanted to get married. If one of them had gotten injured and gone to the hospital, the other one couldn’t make decisions for them. It’s very upsetting. It’s not only for convenience or for romantic reasons —it’s for practicality. For practical reasons! I get a kick out of what Dolly said: “Why shouldn’t they get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?” 

You don’t seem so miserable in your marriage, though.  No, not at all. But I don’t understand why people have a problem with it. I’m a very spiritual person, but I don’t judge. I try not to; I’m only human. To each his own, and everybody is different. God did not make us all the same. So, I just pray for an open mind and a loving heart, and I think that’s all I can do.

In your four decades as a country musician, how much progress do you think the genre has made when it comes to embracing LGBT fans with open arms?  Well, I’ve always embraced gay and lesbian fans with both arms. I have a huge gay following!

Absolutely. But country music as a whole — do you see progress when it comes to LGBT equality?  Yeah, I do. There are more [artists] speaking out about it, but I can’t really speak for anyone else other than myself.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tickets go on sale for Kelly Clarkson Dallas concert Saturday

KellyClarkson3In this week’s edition, we have an interview with Kelly Clarkson, the Burleson native and marriage-equality proponent who just dropped her latest CD, Piece by Piece, Tuesday. If you like the album, but you still wanna see her in person, you can get your tickets starting tomorrow morning. They go on sale for the Aug. 30 concert at Dallas’ Gexa Pavilion (with her guest act the very gay Grammy winners Pexatonic) Saturday, March 14. Go to Ticketmaster (or just click here) so purchase yours. I saw her last year with Maroon 5, and trust me — she was better than the boys.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Adam and Kelly and rum, oh my!

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The Kelly Clarkson-Maroon 5 concert at Fair Park’s Gexa Pavilion occurred on the first full day of fall, but it felt like the last gasp of summer. The Thursday–Friday torrents cooled down the city, and being outside starting at 5 p.m. (hanging in the Malibu Rum VIP tent, cuz that’s how I roll), watching hotties play volleyball before the concert began, felt, well … right. We’d earned a fond farewell to Dallas summer; with Pride over, Halloween is just around the corner, and we like that day a little chilly.

It was a fun evening. First off, I got the scoop that Maroon 5′s tour — which officially ends at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. in two weeks — will have a special “fan-demand” encore in New York City on Nov. 16, so if you missed last night and still wanna see the band perform, that might be your best shot.

Lead singer Adam Levine had a sore throat last night, so he was a bit off his game, despite his energetic bouncing around the stage in an hour-plus concert plus encore. In fact, it wasn’t until about four songs in that Levine began to banter with the audience — and that was a shout-out to opening act Kelly Clarkson for being “a badass.”

And that really captured the night. The Burleson native was kind of the star at the jam-packed amphitheater performance, with her own hour-long set thrilling her local fans. And Kelly loved to banter — and what about was half the fun. Several times, she made jokes about being mistaken for a “lipstick lesbian,” but noted that in fact she did have a (male) fiance. And her rapport with the audience was more intimate than the setting would seem to suggest.

With her gown-clad backup singers, choreographed brass section, numerous costume changes and interaction, Kelly could pick up her show and move it to Vegas tomorrow without a bump.

And her voice was in fine form as well. During her strong rendition of “Mr. Know It All,” the screen behind her lit of hateful reviews and comments made about her in warts-and-all fashion — a daring and empowering thing to do. And on hit after hit, she rattled the rafters.

It was a great end to the summer, a great start to the fall and a great reminder that Kelly Clarkson is still one of my favorite divas.

Photos after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Kelly Clarkson at Verizon Theatre on Friday

The seats were filled up to the nosebleeds last night at Kelly Clarkson’s show at Verizon Theatre. Clearly, North Texas loves the Burleson native and very likely, the show was sold out. Or that’s what the frustrated guy outside screamed to the scalper.  The crowd was sick with adoration — and I learned why. Clarkson is not so much a star as much as she is a genuine and personable talent. It’s hard not to appreciate her.

From behind a scrim flashing headlines of KC, she warms the audience with “Dark Side” from her latest album Stronger. It was a moody piece and offered a tepid opening, but she soon came center stage to rock out with “Behind These Hazel Eyes” that amplified the already high energy into the stratosphere. She finished her troika of an opening with a surprisingly early “Since U Been Gone.”

Clarkson was in great vocal shape and her band could rock the shit out her songs taking them from mere pop radio hits to arena-sounding levels. But it was after her first three songs that I saw the magic of Clarkson. She really is the girl next door with her aw shucks sassy and fun demeanor. Every little comment she made about being home resulted in deafening roars and she punctuated her homegrown flavor with a thick “kuntry” accent. Giving a shout to her friends and family in the audience was just a uproarious for the rest of venue. Clarkson was without any doubt, the homecoming queen for the night.

—  Rich Lopez

Kelly Clarkson tonight at Verizon Theatre

Your life will suck without her

Kelly Clarkson kinda got a raw deal at last week’s Super Bowl. The Burleson native  killed the crowd singing the national anthem, but everyone keeps talking about halftime. We can make it up to her as she headlines her night in town. Matt Nathanson opens.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. 7:30 p.m. $25–$50. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Best Bets • 02.10.12

KC_Sparkle_ShirtFriday 02.10

Your life will suck without her
Kelly Clarkson kinda got a raw deal at last week’s Super Bowl. The Burleson native  killed the crowd singing the national anthem, but everyone keeps talking about halftime. We can make it up to her as she headlines her night in town. Matt Nathanson opens.

DEETS:
Verizon Theatre
1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie
7:30 p.m. $25–$50
Ticketmaster.com.

…………………….

Tuesday 02.14

Your funny Valentine
If chocolates and flowers aren’t your kinda thing, maybe a good laugh is. Spice up Valentine’s Day with comedy. Paul Varghese was named the Funniest Comic in Dallas and headlines this Valentine’s show taking the pressure out of romantic expectations, and going for a laugh. But candy and champagne are included just to seal the deal.

DEETS:
Backdoor Comedy
8250 N. Central Expressway (in the Doubletree Hotel)
7:30 and 9:30 p.m. $28
BackDoorComedy.com.

…………………….

Tuesday 02.14

They’re here, they cheer
From the movie screen to the stage, cheerleading rivals learn there’s more to life then human pyramids and herkies in Bring It On: The Musical. But awesome choreography and high school drama add to the fun.

DEETS:
Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Ave. 8 p.m. $15–$80.
Ticketmaster.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

SOUND BITES: Kelly and Christina are back on disc

Kelly Clarkson, Greatest Hits: Chapter One.  It’s telling that Kelly Clarkson tacks her very first single at the end of the album like a footnote: “A Moment Like This” shot the singer into superstardom after it became her winning American Idol anthem. You can still hear the joy in the North Texan sweetheart’s voice, and you can practically see the tears coming out of those clichés.

Now that she’s been singing infinitely better songs, she’s not looking back at that ditty with the same joyful regard (even Clarkson’s knocked the cheese ball herself). But, for better or worse, it made her a household name, even if it never defined her as an artist. Clarkson was too feisty — too good — for a song like that. “Breakaway,” setting the stage for her power-pop makeover, would become her first major hit, and boy, did it ever. Between then and now she’d record the coveted 2004 kiss-off “Since U Been Gone,” and its doppelgängers, “My Life Would Suck Without You” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” — all included among the 17 tracks, with only one from My December (whew!). Though her biggest hits are sound giants, this collection, which includes two of her best ballads, gives a fuller perspective of the talented pop star. The new songs represent an artist capable of almost anything: She goes country for “Don’t Rush” and does the juggernaut “People Like Us,” where she leads an army of underdogs (“the lost and forgotten”) into a fierce battle cry. Of all the things she’s accomplished in 10 years, it’s about time we got a gay anthem.

Christina Aguilera, LotusChristina Aguilera opens her seventh album by calling this a “rebirth” despite her “broken pieces” — in other words, a really bad few years (last album, tabloids and Burlesque). After spending much of her career doing what she’s so good at (using her voice like it’s a moon rocket) the pop singer, who got a profile-boost from The Voice, was sick of sitting in Lady Gaga’s shadow: Xtina wanted something different — something Bionic. That album, released two years ago, was a massive sound-bomb, not just commercially but creatively — who’s the dummy that thought Auto-Tuning one of the best voices ever was a good idea?

Lesson learned: Aguilera rips through these songs with all the superpower of a tsunami, sweeping up everything in its path … even Mother Monster. She slays “Your Body,” the sexy first single, as hard as she does the guys in its cartoonish video; “Army of Me” has her in Kill Bill mode, referencing herself as the “Fighter” she was in 2003, at the height of her career; and “Let There Be Love” is a glorious club smash that could be about world peace … except it’s mostly about makeup sex. Along with the Sia-written “Blank Page” — a decent tune made exponentially better by Christina’s heartfelt, powerhouse performance — those are the highlights on an album that never finds the same cohesive groove of her best work, Back to Basics and Stripped, but thankfully never gets as out-of-character as Bionic. Let Gaga be weird. You just sing, girl.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones