ST. LOUIS — Country music star Reba McEntire says that after doing Broadway, TV, private shows and supporting other superstar acts, she's fully back on her tour game and taking the lead on her "All the Women I Am" trek.
"I haven't had a brand-new stage (show) since the late '90s," said McEntire, who has stayed busy with other projects.
She's on the road promoting "All the Women I Am," her 34th album, which includes the new single "Somebody's Chelsea" and a cover of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy."
In an interview, McEntire talked about the album and tour, country music's newest stars, Beyonce and the tragedy that claimed McEntire's band members 20 years ago.
Q: What's the "All the Women I Am" album all about?
A: When we got through the whole album, we looked at it and there were so many different types of women we were singing about. It just worked out that way. It wasn't intentional.
Q: Who were these women?
A: They're motherly, feisty, loving, mischievous and taking care of business, but love to have fun. They were all full women.
Q: Tell us about the new tour.
A: We're looking forward to bringing a show ... that's brand-new, from the staging to the lights, and getting to work with bands like the Band Perry, Steel Magnolia and Edens Edge. We're having a blast with them on tour.
Q: How do you even begin to cull together a set list with 34 albums under your belt?
A: It's very hard after that many singles and that many albums. What you're wanting to do is what the audience came to hear, and I want to play my own favorites. I try to mix it up. I don't want to leave out someone's favorite. I've gone back and asked fans what's their favorite and it's always "Fancy."
Q: What is it about "Fancy"?
A: I fell in love with it in 1968 when it was a Bobbie Gentry song. I love the love story aspect. It's a Cinderella song, and it's always been my favorite.
Q: What else comes up as fans' favorites in concert?
A: "Is There Life Out There," ''I'm a Survivor," ''Does He Love You," ''Whoever's in New England."
Q: How do your own favorites differ from fan favorites?
A: Those are some of my favorites. But I always love to do "Turn on the Radio," ''Somebody's Chelsea" and "I Want a Cowboy." We have 29 songs in the show, more than ever.
Q: What prompted you to record a version of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy"?
A: We were doing an unplugged show in Nashville, and they said they wanted me to do four or five of my songs and a cover. It was a good idea. It got so much attention. ... But I was very hesitant about recording that song (at first suggestion). I didn't know what it meant, and I didn't know the words. But I was OK with it.
Q: Sugarland scored big covering Beyonce's "Irreplaceable." What is it with Beyonce songs and country music?
A: I can't answer that. But I think she's a very talented woman, very professional.
Q: What's your take on new country stars like Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alania from "American Idol"?
A: I'm supporting them 100 percent. It's tough getting in this business. I'm their No. 1 cheerleader. I wish the best for all of them. It's a lot different from when I got started. I didn't have a No. 1 record for five or six years. It's a faster-paced business nowadays, without the patience it used to have.
Q: What's your best advice to those singers?
A: Look for the songs. The songs are the most important thing. You've got to find that right thing for you.
Q: What big plans do you have for album No. 35?
A: I don't know yet. I'm still working on this one.
Q: Your St. Louis concert is days away from a special 20-year remembrance taking place here recognizing the local musicians (Terry Jackson, Kirk Cappello and Tony Saputo) who were in the 1991 plane crash that killed several members of your touring band. Can you address this anniversary?
A: Every time I get on stage, I do reflect about that. It's something you never forget. There's always that feeling on stage that they're there with me, and I miss my guys and girls so much. We miss all of them. It pulls at your heartstrings, and my heart still goes out to their families. During this 20th anniversary, we have to remember how great they were, what they taught us, and that you have to remember each day could be your last.