Arts & Entertainment, Music

Selecting a Song

Reba McEntire

Lesson time 15:26 min

Melody, lyrics, relatability. Learn how Reba assesses what makes a great country song, using examples from “Fancy”, Merle Haggard’s “Carolyn”, and others.

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

Topics include: Ingredients to a Great Song • Case Study: "Whoever's in New England" • Trusting Your Instincts


Song selection is so important for a new artist because you don't know how many shots you're going to have at a song release on radio. If it's your first single it could be your last. It could be the first of maybe five, and after five shots you're out. I was very lucky when I got started in 1976. They were more patient. I don't know that they forgot about me, whatever, but I got to continue releasing songs. And my first one, I think it peaked at 88 on the charts. And it was six years before I got a number one record. Things are moving at a very faster pace nowadays than they were when I was first starting in the music business. You don't get as long of a time. You know, there's a new girl on the block, there's somebody else coming in maybe with a better song. So have all your ducks in a row. Make sure you've got the right music, the right song, the right producer to produce the music, the musicians. And when you release that song everything's very important, but the A, number one thing, is that song. When you're in the music business you have to have a song. If you write your own material that's great. My opinion? If you can write that many songs that are number one hits in your mind your wishful thinking, or you're not human. Because I don't know-- there are people who can do that. I am not one of them. I have to depend upon the songwriters and the publishing companies to provide material for me. Without them-- well if it's left up to my song writing talent we're in bad shape. So the publishers, the song pitchers, the songwriters, they're very important to our music community because they are the ones who provide the songs for us to sing. And there's lots of talented songwriters out there. Thank God. When I'm looking for songs first thing I do about six to eight months out, I let the publishing company know that I'm looking for songs, this is when I'm going to record. That's number one. That's what you got to do. And then number two is what I do, I start accepting all these songs. They have to be published. You know, because it gets a little sticky if I listen to a song that's not published and then in my subconscious a year or two later, I write something that's similar to that. I could get sued. It's happened before, not to me, but other people. So you have to be very careful about that. And so then when I listen to the songs, the songs that I don't like at all, I let them go. The ones I really do like, or maybe just kind of like, I keep. And I keep listening to them over and over. And the songs that I want to keep listening to over and over those are the ones that usually make the list of the ones I'm going to record. When I'm listening to songs trying to find a song to record, I can tell after a verse and a chorus if that's a song I'm going to keep to listen to a second time, sometimes it's ...

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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