Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Plus One: Country Music Month Tribute - The 2nd Best-Lookin' Redhead from Oklahoma

I wanted to wrap up our tribute to Country Music Month with a series of (2 or 3) "Plus One" features, so we could salute some country artists who are not from Texas. There is a boatload of outstanding singers I could pick from, but I wanted to pick a couple of my personal favorites to end things with.

I could not look myself in the mirror tomorrow if did not include one of the most influential and successful females in the history of Country Music, who just happens to be a very nice, down-to-Earth lady who, despite the demands on her time, always makes times for her fans. I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting this woman on three different occasions as part of my job as a radio personality. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the second best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma, Reba Nell McEntire. There's a story behind the "2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma" bit. Here's the deal: One of my radio listeners was a little old lady from Waureka, Oklahoma. Her name was Thelma Schaffner and yes, she was a redhead - the best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma. Thelma and I became very dear friends and I loved her with all my heart. She was kind of like an adoptive mother to me. I told Reba that story and she said that, in this case, she was honored to be the "2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma". Reba is a great gal.

Reba started settin' the Country Music World on fire in the late '70s and in the ensuing thirty plus years, she hasn't slowed down a bit. Besides her singing career, she has been in movies and her TV series Reba did very well for her. That lady you saw in that TV show. That's Reba in real life. No wonder the show was a hit. She got play herself.

Making a list a great songs by Reba McEntire would be like trying to pick out which of your kids you like best - it can't be done because you like 'em all, but in different ways. So here's a partial list of a few of my personal favorites from the lady who has sold over 56 million records, the 2nd best-lookin' redhead from Oklahoma...Reba McEntire.
The rest is up to you. Here's a YouTube page that can be a starting point for your search for your favorite Reba songs. When you get home from work, cue 'em up in your media player on your computer and turn the volume way up. It's very cathartic.  :)

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Jim Reeves

Let's , for a moment, look at Texas as a metaphorical Mother. She has given birth to so many Country Music stars that if all the states in the country spawned no more country music talent, Country Music would still have a pedigree rich with history and tradition. Just in the past four weeks we have written a veritable Country Music History Book filled with nothing but the Legends of Country Music from Texas. A quick recap of our star-studded roster:  Waylon, Willie, Tanya Tucker, George Strait and about twenty others. There is one name that, I'm a little ashamed to admit, that almost slipped my mind. Though his career in Country Music was a short one, he's still one of the most recognizable names in Country Music and has a singing voice as cool as the other side of the pillow. His name? Shame on me for almost forgetting about Gentleman Jim Reeves.

Jim Reeves was born in Galloway, Texas in Deep East Texas near Carthage. At one time or another, Jim was a student at the University of Texas, a radio DJ, a shipyard worker and a pro baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. Not exactly the typical foundation of a Hall of Fame music career. While a DJ, Reeves ended up in Shreeveport at KWKH, home of the Louisiana Hayride. When a performer was late for the show once, Reeves was asked to fill in. We all know what happened from there. Oh, by the way, the guy who was late for the show? Hank Williams. Go figure. There's good Jim Reeves bio here if you'd like to dig a little deeper into his short life. The story about the plane crash in which Reeves died is especially compelling even though it's only a few sentences long. You should take a look at it.

The Music of Gentleman Jim Reeves:
I was a little surprised that YouTube has a nice selection of Jim Reeves music. For a guy whose career was so short, his impact on Country Music almost fifty years after his death, is still felt. Just think about, this is one time that Hank Williams being late for a show benefited us all. His tardiness gave us another Country Music Legend, Jim Reeves. Thanks, Hank.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker