Arts & Entertainment, Music

Performance Techniques: Engaging an Audience

Reba McEntire

Lesson time 08:37 min

Anyone in country music knows Reba is a mesmerizing performer. Learn her techniques on how to engage an audience through stories and charm while performing, including taking the audience on a rollercoaster with the set list.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Set Lists • Eye Contact • Speaking to an Audience


When I go in to select the songs for my set list, it's a team effort. Narvel and I always did it. We sat down, we went back and forth, and he would say this one. I said, ah, I don't really want to do that one. We've done it before. Or, it's not one of my absolute favorites to do on stage. And so we'll have a long list and then we'll narrow it down to what we want to do, or what I'm going to perform on stage. And it's always a tug and pull. And then it goes down to, out of so many, I need to eliminate like five. Which are the best ones that I have something to say about the song, in front of it? So that helps me make the decision. A set list is very important. You have your most important songs. I don't mean in the way of chart success. But they are so important. It's the first, the middle, and the end. So your first song has to be something that gets everybody excited you're there. And so it could be a cover tune, it could be a song of yours, or it could be an album cut. But just something for a reason. On the All the Women I Am Tour, I opened the show with "All the Women I Am," because it was introduction to people who didn't know me. And I'm this, I'm that. This is all the women I am, all the facets of my life and my career. And so that was a great opener. It was kind of like, hey, hi. This is me. Hope you're having a good time because I'm here to have a blast. And then the show kind of runs a roller coaster of emotions. You know, it's, "We're Having fun, and then, "Where Were You When I Could've Loved You," and then "How Blue," and then "Somebody Should Leave." You got to bring them back up. And then you do a song, an instrumental with the band. That's like, "Nothing to Lose." It's a fun album cut but it shows off the band. And then you go into "Does He Love You." and then it's kind of like a, whoa, this is a cheatin' song here. And then it's just a roller coaster of events. But that center is where you've taken them on a roller coaster, and then you get to that middle point. And it can be something that's new. Maybe it's pulling up to the edge of the stage and doing a sit down acoustic thing. And then the end, that's where you take them on a ride of the big hits and the songs they're very familiar with, and we end with "Fancy." When you are transitioning from song to song, it's more interesting to the audience-- at least it is when I'm in the audience-- for me to be able to tell a little story or an example or just something to make a little break between the songs. Instead of saying, this next song I'm going to do for you, why not have a little story about it. Say, for instance, on "That's the Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," I tell a story about Vicki Lawrence, how she came about singing that song. And it was her one and only number one record. And 20 years later, I recorded it bec...

About the Instructor

You know her songs. Her Oklahoma charm. Now learn directly from Reba in her first-ever online class. Join her as she records a never-before-heard song, creates a new acoustic version of Fancy, breaks down her hits, and delivers emotional performances on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. This is more than a music class. This is Reba's life, business, and country music MasterClass.

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Reba McEntire

Reba teaches her approach to making great country music and navigating the business in 21 video lessons.

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