Published May 18, 2008
| Associated Press
LAS VEGAS – After wrapping up a successful concert tour, you'd think Reba McEntire would want to take some time off to relax.
Instead, the tireless country star is preparing for her 10th turn as host of the Academy of Country Music Awards this weekend. Over the years, she says she's gained more ease hosting the event.
"I've got a lot more confidence," McEntire told AP Television at rehearsals Friday. "I know a lot more of these folks that I get to work with, and we're a wonderful team. And it's, I don't want to say, 'old hat,' 'cause I still get a little nervous and butterflies still happen when I get on that stage. But I think I have more fun with it now than I did the first time."
At last year's show, McEntire sang "Because of You" with "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson. The song was the lead single from McEntire's country- and pop-chart topping "Duets" album. The two then headlined a series of live concerts together earlier this year.
It was such a hit they decided to perform 24 more shows in the fall.
"When Kelly and I got through with the tour in the spring, it was, like, when we had to go out by ourselves, it was very boring, because I love to sing with her on her songs. She says she loves to sing with me on my songs, and we stay out on the stage the whole time. We never leave."
As much as she loves Clarkson, McEntire says she hasn't been paying attention to the latest "American Idol," which ends with next Wednesday's showdown between the so-called "Two Davids": Archuleta and Cook.
"Once you get to sing with the No. 1 American Idol, watching it on TV is just not the same," she said.
McEntire, 53, is both ACM host and nominee this year, with "Because of You" a contender in the "Vocal Event of the Year" category. Recently increased airplay of another "Duets" pairing, "Every Other Weekend," with Kenny Chesney, has helped push the eight-month-old CD back into the country-sales top 30.
McEntire's sitcom, "Reba," took a bow after six seasons last year, but she remains ever busy, with not only recording and touring, but also overseeing Reba-signature lines of bath linens, clothes, shoes and, coming later this year, luggage.
Is there anything she wouldn't put her name on?
"Oh, a lot of stuff my name's not on," she said, with a laugh. "But we're working on it."
The 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards airs live 8 p.m. EST (tape-delayed on the west coast) Sunday on CBS.