Famed country singer Reba McEntire is releasing her first-ever gospel album on Friday — a project she’s hoping will inspire fans to turn to God amidst life’s troubles.
It’s a move that comes after McEntire, 61, and her husband of 26 years, Narvel Blackstock, divorced in 2015, with the singer finding herself focusing more deeply on her faith — a quest that has led to the new double album titled, “Sing it Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.”
And with songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace,” it’s clear the 22-song endeavor is pointedly aimed at spreading the Christian message; it’s the first time in her four-decade career that McEntire has released a gospel-themed music project.
“I needed it myself, going through two and half years of changes in my life,” McEntire said, according to Fox News. “And who better to lean on than God? And that’s who I needed to be listening to. And I needed that faith, that faith strengthened, that hope.”
In discussing the album with USA Today, McEntire revealed that her sister, Susie, has always been the gospel singer and that she’s always been the country songstress, but that this project has shown her the deep differences that exist between the two genres.
“I think it was more heartfelt on these songs. That’s not to say a country song is not heartfelt, but this is more more spiritual, more about my relationship with God. This isn’t just entertainment,” she told the outlet. “It’s not a country album. It’s deeper than that. It’s about changing lives. It’s a message from God. That’s why I’m here, not to be rich and famous and popular but to help people. I’m the conduit or, as I call it, the water hose.”
She continued, “That’s what God wanted me to be when He gave me this voice: I’m supposed to stand up and give His message.”
McEntire also refrained from getting political, proclaiming that she doesn’t preach her views publicly, but that she’s hoping her first single — “Back to God” — can help people focus on what really matters rather than marinating and partaking in the division that has fractured the country over the past year.
“I’m hearing from people…about how [this song] has touched their heart and about how much we need this song at this time with all the trouble in the United States,” she told Fox News. “With all the differences of opinions let’s just give it back to God. It just seems to be very timely.”
As for her own personal evolution, McEntire said she’s feeling happier and stronger these days, and she credited her faith in God and her family for helping her navigate the difficult terrain she’s faced in recent years.
“It’s really sweet how it has all turned out,” the singer told the Associated Press.
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