Savannah Keyes and Friends Honor Reba McEntire at Bluebird Cafe

Reba McEntire

In the wake of her 2015 divorce from manager/husband Narvel Blackstock, country legend Reba McEntire will manage her own career going forward with the help of her team at Reba’s Business Inc. (RBI). She was previously managed by Blackstock under the couple’s Starstruck Entertainment venture.

“My new management structure is me, my team,” Reba said at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café on Tuesday while serving as the special guest mentor of the inaugural Change the Conversation Presents: Rising Young Artists Mentoring Sessions. “Narvel has been my manager since 1988, and so I thought it was a good time now to break free of that. So what we’re doing is my team at Starstruck, which is now RBI -- Reba’s Business Incorporated -- we joined together and had a little pow wow at lunch. I said, ‘What do y’all think? Got any ideas?’  And they said, ‘Yeah! As a matter of fact we do,’ and they went rattling off. So Carolyn Snell, Justin McIntosh and Leslie Matthews and I have been having a wonderful time.”

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McEntire will serve as president of RBI.  Snell, who has been with Starstruck for nine years as McEntire’s tour manager, will now serve as associate manager/tour manager with RBI. Matthews is brand manager, Theresa Connelly is controller and McIntosh is vp, creative & marketing (RBI/Starstruck).

The singer says she, Snell, Matthews and McIntosh came up with a plan and took their ideas to her label. “We went over to Nash Icon and said, ‘Ok, here’s our list. What do y’all have to add to it?’ We were just going to meet with a few people at Nash Icon and the table was full,” McEntire says. “Everybody was so excited that we were excited and wanting to do things we hadn’t got to do before.”

McEntire let the label know she was open to new possibilities.  “If there was something they had asked for in the past, bring it up again,” McEntire told the staff. “Maybe the situation is different now. Maybe we are ready to do it. We’ve been having a blast.”

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The veteran entertainer stressed her new management arrangement is a team effort. “It’s teamwork. I am a team player. I grew up singing as a trio -- Pake, Susie and myself,” she says of her siblings. “When I had to get out there in front by myself, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as when everybody would come to the front with me and sing and play their instruments. That’s what I’m loving about our team now.  It’s team management. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I sure do like it.”

At the Bluebird Café event hosted by Taylor Guitars, McEntire did an onstage Q&A with Nashville journalist and Change the Conversation co-founder Beverly Keel where she discussed her lengthy career, future plans, the role of women in country music and took questions from the audience.

Formed in 2014 by Keel, CMT senior vp Leslie Fram and Rounder Records Group’s vp of A&R Tracy Gershon, Change the Conversation is a coalition designed to “tackle country music’s gender issues.”  In addition to the Q&A with McEntire, the sold-out Bluebird event also included a new artist showcase featuring up-and-coming country singers Savannah Keyes, Lexi Mackenzie, Kalie Shorr, Alana Springsteen and Allison Veltz.