Reba McEntire Details The Emotional Process Of Creating Her New Lifestyle Book, ‘Not That Fancy’

McEntire admits that writing about her late mother stirred a whirlwind of emotions.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

October 30, 2023


2:56 pm

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Reba McEntire; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Reba McEntire has endured hardship, loss, success, fame, love and so much more throughout her lifetime. Underneath it all, her roots remain in her home state of Oklahoma and fans will come to understand this on a much deeper level while exploring her new book, Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating and Dusting Off Your Boots.

The idea to start assembling McEntire’s first book in over two decades came about in 2020, a time when she was grieving the loss of her mother, Jacqueline, and relying on the simpler things in life to restore her everyday joy and to help her reclaim her passion for music. So the global superstar and Country Music Hall of Famer got to work assembling around 200 photographs that capture her childhood, career, and personal memories throughout the years. 

“I have a lot of pictures…they’re in the hundreds of thousands and it’s something that I have to go through and delete every once in a while when I’m just sitting around, maybe on a plane I’ll delete ‘cause I have so many. So that was one of my projects,” McEntire explained to Country Now and other outlets. “Starting at the beginning, [it was] what is on my computer and my phone and just dragging them over on my desktop and saying ‘I’d like this.’ And if that had been out before, we stayed away from that because we wanted new pictures and the Lord knows we had them. So it was the pictures, it was the memories and that took a lot of time.”

Not That Fancy; Cover Art Courtesy of The Green Room
Not That Fancy; Cover Art Courtesy of The Green Room

These photos were then paired with behind-the-scenes stories, 60+ recipes from McEntire’s personal kitchen, lighthearted lifestyle tips, and Oklahoma-themed factoids.

Forward By Garth Brooks

Photo Courtesy Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Photo Courtesy Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Going inside the book, readers are first greeted with a foreword written by fellow country star, Garth Brooks. He fills the page with heartfelt words of gratitude towards the Queen of Country Music and her constant mentorship throughout his career. 

“I was really flattered that he said yes, he would do the forward. Then I was grateful, thankful, humbled,” McEntire recalled. “It really moved me what he said about me in the book because I was with Garth at the beginning of his career, professionally, when he toured with me in 1991. I saw the uniqueness, I saw the specialness. I saw a kid from Oklahoma coming out, being bigger than life itself. So for him to say those things about me, it was really nice,” she continued. “It moved my heart tremendously because he’s a hard worker. He’s a very dedicated person. What you see is what you get with Garth. I love him.”

What is Reba’s New Book About?

The title cleverly offers a play on words as it was inspired by her signature ‘90s hit, “Fancy,” in a way that also indicates that the content inside goes beyond her journey in the spotlight. With each turn of the page, readers uncover a new story from McEntire’s childhood, career, and personal life as well as tons of inspiration for delicious dishes like the quail poppers and chicken fried steak that come straight from her restaurant, Reba’s Place, in Atoka, OK. She shared that among it all, some of her highlights in the book are memories between her and her longtime boyfriend, Rex Linn and key moments from her childhood. 

“My favorite story is about Rex and me going to Sonic for Valentine’s. And then all the others are funny stuff, us scaring each other when we’re playing. He loves scary movies. I don’t, but he loves to scare me and I love to scare him. So that’s a lot of fun.”

She continued, “Reminiscing about cleaning out mom and daddy’s home and being with family and getting to put the restaurant together and the recipes were so much fun to collect from friends and family. Some of my favorite dishes are in this book…all of them I’ve tried, I’m pretty sure all of them. Maybe some from the restaurant I haven’t. So it’s a very fun book to read for me. I’ve gone over it so many times.”

Following its release on October 10, the book has already topped The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

Is There An Audiobook Version?

Readers can also experience the project through the audiobook version, which offers exclusive bonus features such as a special conversation between the “Does He Love You” singer and her siblings. A few other special guests joined McEntire in recording sections of the book, including her friend and Reba co-star Melissa Peterman, actor-boyfriend Rex Linn as well as some fellow country stars like Dolly Parton, Kix & Ronnie (Brooks & Dunn), Vince Gill, Terri Clark, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, and more. 

“Doing the audio part was so much fun for me having all my buddies and family in there to read it because it just kind of comes to life when you hear the audio. It was something I didn’t really want to do at first, but I’m so glad we did it,” the Oklahoma native admits.

Reba Remembers Her Late Mother Jacqueline

While this process ultimately brought a whole new sense of life and authenticity to the collection, it also led to some difficult emotions, especially when it came to McEntire telling the stories of her late mother. 

“Talking about mama, that was the hardest. I think I had to stop four or five times and regroup and go back and do it again…I’ve got a picture of her right here on my desk. She’s just a smiling and that’s the way I remember her so well. She was a strong woman and that’s where I get that from. Her daddy was strong too, but Mama was really tough. So talking about her and me saying that I had lost my want to sing because she passed, that was very true. And Susie (McEntire’s younger sister) would just smile and say, ‘ah, you’ll get it back.’ And she was right, I did. But it took a few months.”

Reba McEntire delivers a heartwarming message of losing someone close and imagining what a conversation would be like with them in heaven through her new song, “Seven Minutes In Heaven.” This powerful tune appears on her companion album, Not That Fancy, which hit the No. 1 spot on the current country album chart. In addition to the brand-new song, new 14-track collection produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb features stripped-down versions of some of McEnitre’s most iconic songs.

Assembling An Acoustic Collection Of Hits

When asked about the creative process for this album and working alongside Cobb to recreate these songs in a whole new way, McEntire explained it was “a lot of fun.”

“He is wonderful. He’s so easy to work with. Totally different than from any other producer I’ve ever worked with. And he gets in there with the musicians, plays guitar, and we’ll play a little bit…And we just kind of play as we go along, make it up as we go along,” she said gushing about Cobb before adding, “It is just so refreshing to be so scaled down on the production and the music and the instrument that it takes the song to a different place, not a different level, it’s just a different place.”

Not That Fancy Album Cover
Not That Fancy Album Cover

The end result of the album as well as Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating and Dusting Off Your Boots is something McEntire can look back on and be proud of. It reflects her genuine desire to bring hope to readers in a way that inspires them to continue creating and cherishing their own memories, no matter how small they may seem. 

A group of lucky fans will have the chance to celebrate the book’s release alongside Reba McEntire during a special event in Nashville. Hosted by her longtime friend and former Reba co-star, Melissa Peterman, the event, dubbed “Not That Fancy: An Evening with Reba & Friends” will take place on Sunday, November 5 at 7:30 pm at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.