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The national anthem launched Reba’s career 50 years ago. Now, she’s sung it at the Super Bowl

McEntire was 19 when a performance of the national anthem at the National Finals Rodeo launched her career. Fifty years later, she performed it at the Super Bowl

SHARE The national anthem launched Reba’s career 50 years ago. Now, she’s sung it at the Super Bowl
Reba McEntire performs during the 2023 CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reba McEntire performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tennessee. McEntire performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Amy Harris/Invision/Associated Press

Red Steagall was at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City when he heard a 19-year-old woman with red hair perform a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that he knew he wouldn’t forget anytime soon.

In fact, 50 years later, he still hasn’t forgotten it.

“I listened to this young lady sing the national anthem, and it just blew me away,” Steagall, a country music singer-songwriter, recently told The Washington Post. “I had never heard that kind of voice before.”

That brief December 1974 performance ended up being one of those right-time, right-place moments for Reba McEntire. A year later she landed a record deal, which Steagall helped her negotiate, and two years after that, she released her debut album, per The Washington Post.

Now, in somewhat of a full-circle moment, McEntire has sung the national anthem on one of the biggest stages of her career — the Super Bowl.

Watch Reba McEntire perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl

Following Post Malone’s folky rendition of “America the Beautiful,” McEntire took the field of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the tens of thousands of fans in the crowd and millions of viewers at home.

At one point during McEntire’s performance, which featured an ASL performance from actor Daniel Durant, the camera showed an emotional Chris Jones, who is a defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Reba McEntire on performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl

McEntire has sung the national anthem countless times throughout her career. But even 50 years later, performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not a gig she takes lightly. She recently told Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis that she continually practiced the song in the shower and in the car in preparation for the Super Bowl.

“Oh, I’m so excited,” the country music legend told People. “You know, it’s not about me. It’s about everybody who has worked so hard to get to the Super Bowl, and my job is to bring the patriotism.

“I’m going to be singing for not only the people who are going to be performing and playing on the field that day, but it’s for everybody who has worked so hard to ensure our freedom and try to have as much peace on earth as we can,” she continued. “It’s not about me. I’m just the conduit and the water hose who gets to sing the song.”

For her big performance, McEntire said she would be wearing her father’s 1961 World Champion Steer Roper belt buckle, and her mother’s bracelet, per Taste of Country.

But Sunday’s gig didn’t just remind McEntire of the national anthem performance that started it all. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Fransisco 49ers takes place in Las Vegas, where McEntire was part of the longest-running country music residency alongside Brooks & Dunn.

“I love Las Vegas,” McEntire said during Apple Music’s halftime show press conference, noting that her first time performing in the city was in 1983 with the country-gospel group the Statler Brothers. “Getting to come back here now and sing at the Super Bowl, the first time the Super Bowl has been in Nevada? This is a first for a lot of things, and I’m just tickled to pieces to be a part of it.”

How to watch Reba McEntire at the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl airs Feb. 11 at 4:30 p.m. MST, on CBS, Nickelodeon and Paramount+, per CBS Sports.

The pre-game musical numbers — including McEntire’s performance of the national anthem, Andra Day’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a rendition of “America the Beautiful” from Post Malone — aired at 4 p.m. MST.