A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the most prolific hitmakers of all time, Reba McEntire has tackled everything from Music Row to Broadway to the Vegas Strip. She is an accomplished actress, businesswoman and national icon with 16 ACM Awards to her credit. She has sold more than 56 million albums worldwide and has charted No. 1 songs across four decades. The entertainment experience and professionalism she brings to everything she does makes her perfect to host the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Reba hosted the first ACM Awards show that was staged in Las Vegas back in 2003. This year, she re-takes the helm once again for the 15th time --- making her the longest-running host in Academy history. Tonight, she is also up for ACM Female Vocalist of the Year --- a trophy she has taken home 7 times.

"When you win an award, that means people are saying they like what you do, and you're loved and accepted," Reba said after hearing her name called among the nominees. "Everyone wants to be loved, and I'm no exception to that. It gives me confidence to keep doing what I'm doing and keep following my gut."

During her ACM Awards promo shoot in Santa Monica, Reba told us about her ACM experiences and what's coming next.

 

YOU TOOK A FEW YEARS OFF FROM HOSTING, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING BACK?

REBA: I feel really good about coming back because I missed it a bunch. When you're sitting out in the audience after being behind-the-scenes and knowing what's going on, you're thinking, 'I wonder what they're doing back there? Are they running long? Are they running short? Ooohh, I wish I knew what was going on back there!' So, I really did miss it, and I'm glad to be a part of it again.

AFTER ALL THE LIVE TV YOU'VE DONE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A HOST CAN DO?

REBA: The most important thing is to be natural. If you boo-boo, laugh about it and go on – and let the audience be part of the joke! They know what's going on, and it so much more fun for everybody to be part of what's going on.

ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS?

REBA: No pre-show rituals, just make sure you go to the bathroom. Make sure everything is zipped up and buttoned. My thing is, if I can get through those first two steps to go onstage and the first sentence, then it's all right.

YOU'VE BEEN PART OF THE ACM FAMILY FOR A LONG TIME. WHAT DO THE ACM AWARDS MEAN TO YOU AS THIS POINT?

REBA: It means family, friends, coming together and celebrating what everyone has done the year before. It's become sort of a family reunion for me because all of my buddies are there. We're in competition, but we have fun, and we're always rooting for each other.

YOU'RE UP FOR ACM FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR, WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU'VE WON MANY TIMES. WHAT IS IT ABOUT FEMALE VOICES THAT INSPIRES YOU MOST AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY THEY BRING TO COUNTRY MUSIC?

REBA: Female voices bring to country music that heart…more of the heart and soul. They can sing it and deliver that message and the feelings very, very well because they've lived it. They've been there, and a woman's got a big heart.

YOU'RE FRESH OFF WINNING A GRAMMY FOR YOUR LAST ALBUM, WHICH WAS YOUR FIRST GOSPEL ALBUM. WHAT ARE YOU COOKING UP FOR US MUSICALLY NEXT?

REBA: I'm looking for songs right now. I want to go into the studio in the near future, and I'm trying to find the greatest songs that I can, so that if I sing it, it can touch your heart.

IT'S A BITTERSWEET YEAR. THE ACM AWARDS AND THE COUNTRY FAMILY ARE COMING BACK TOGETHER TO VEGAS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE LAST OCTOBER'S FESTIVAL TRAGEDY. WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO COME BACK?

REBA: It's very important for us to come back to give that support to the town and the fans, and to let everybody know, we're a team and we're strong. We join together. Music is very powerful, it's very healing. That's our job in the entertainment business is to help people go forward.