Horatio Alger Association Distinguished Americans, Inc., a non-prit educational organization honoring the achievements outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that multi-media entertainer and entrepreneur Reba McEntire has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. McEntire joins 11 other esteemed business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2018 honors. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon admired leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.
McEntire, the third in a family four children, grew up on a cattle ranch in the small, rural town Chockie, Oklahoma. Her father expected all the children to work on the ranch and Ms. McEntire began riding horses at the age three. By the time she was seven, she was gathering cattle from before daylight until after dark. In what little spare time she had, McEntire also competed in rodeos as a barrel racer—a sport she continued until she was 21. As a child, McEntire’s mother taught her and her three siblings how to sing and harmonize as they traveled to and from their father’s rodeo performances. While in high school, McEntire and her siblings formed their own group, The Singing McEntires, and performed frequently at rodeos, clubs, and dance halls. McEntire attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, graduating with a major in elementary education and a minor in music. She continued to work on her father’s ranch to help pay her tuition. While the more predictable career paths for McEntire would have been to become a teacher or barrel racer, she was determined to pursue her dream becoming a country music artist. McEntire got her first break singing the national anthem at a rodeo in 1974, which resulted in an invitation to move to Nashville and ultimately a deal with Polygram Mercury Records.
Although her first recordings were not an immediate success, McEntire worked diligently, releasing a series increasingly popular albums and winning the CMA Female Vocalist the Year Award four years in a row, from 1984 to 1987. As the only country female solo act to have a No. 1 hit in four straight decades, Reba has achieved a rare pinnacle with 35 No. 1 singles and over 56 million albums sold worldwide ten prompting her to be called the “queen country music.” The Country Music Hall Fame and Hollywood Bowl Hall Fame member has won 15 American Music Awards, 13 ACM Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards, seven CMA Awards, two GRAMMY Awards, an ACM Career Achievement Honor and the National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress, in addition to other leadership and philanthropic accolades. With Sing It Now: Songs Faith & Hope (Nash Icon Records / Capitol Christian Music Group), which topped both the Billboard Country and Christian/Gospel charts for multiple weeks and marked her thirteenth summit, McEntire won her first GMA Dove Awards for Bluegrass/Country/Roots Album the Year as well as a GRAMMY Awards nomination for Best Roots Gospel Album to be broadcast live on January 28th on CBS.
Her creative and entrepreneurial endeavors have established her as a household name across music, television, film, theater and retail. Proving her business acumen, McEntire has expanded her brand to include lines with Dillard’s and Justin Boots. She wrote her autobiography, Reba: My Story, in 1994, and a second book, Comfort from a Country Quilt, in 1999. McEntire is also an acclaimed actress with 11 movie credits, a lead role on Broadway and starred in her own six-season television sitcom Reba, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination in 2004.
“The Horatio Alger Association stands for integrity, honesty and resilience – qualities that Reba certainly exemplifies,” says Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “She has faced numerous challenges in both her early career and personal tragedies, with admirable strength and grace. Reba inspires us all with her tenacity and always upbeat attitude. Her positive outlook is contagious and she will serve as an excellent role model for our Scholars. For these reasons and more, we are proud to recognize her as a 2018 Horatio Alger Member.”
McEntire is also well-known for her charitable efforts, working with organizations such as The Salvation Army, Texoma Medical Center, Children’s Medical Research, Habitat for Humanity, Outnumber Hunger and more. The Texoma Medical Center in Denison, Texas, is home to the Reba McEntire Rehabilitation Center, Reba’s Ranch House, and the TMC Reba Mobile Mammography Unit. In recognition her philanthropic efforts, McEntire has received the Salvation Army Award, the Home Depot Humanitarian Award and Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award.
“I always say that you need three things to succeed in life: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone. These qualities have served me well in every part my life, and I have no doubt my fellow honorees would agree,” states McEntire. “I am honored to be inducted into the Horatio Alger Association, and I can’t wait to meet our 2018 Scholars and help them in any way I can to reach their own dreams.”
Through its Members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $125 million to students in need, all which has been funded solely through the generosity Association Members and friends.
McEntire and the Member Class 2018 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 5-7, 2018, during the Association’s 71st Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements both Members and National Scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact, exchanging stories hardships and triumphs.