Nearly every award show host begins their dialogue with a joke about the state of America. But don’t expect Reba McEntire to be anything like the others. The country icon is returning to host the Academy of Country Music Awards for the 15th time on Sunday, April 15, and tells Us Weekly she has no plans to make the show political.
“This year the idea is to have fun. There’s a lot of political things you can address, stuff going on in the world. That’s not our theme; our theme is to have fun, not to be mean, not to be catty, just to have a great night of entertainment, great music, seeing everybody and introducing new music,” she tells Us in an exclusive interview. “It’s going to be a fun night … I want it to be positive and uplifting and so does everybody at the ACM. They first came to me and said, ‘Our theme this year is fun. Let’s go have fun.’ I said, ‘Absolutely, I’m for it.’”
McEntire, 63, will be taking the stage with Kelly Clarkson at the show, one of her close friends — and family members. The country star’s stepson is Clarkson’s husband, Brandon Blackstock. McEntire and husband of 26 years Narvel Blackstock split in 2015.
“Anytime I can work with her, I’d say yes. I think she’s doing a wonderful job on The Voice. Her and Blake [Shelton] together are hysterical. I’ve never seen anybody get out of the chair as much as Kelly does,” the “Fancy” singer says. “She is a character, she is a force of nature. Anytime anybody gets to work with Kelly, it’s never a dull moment.”
The country star also explained what has changed over the years — she put out her first album in 1977, and has released 31 more since. “Well for me, confidence and my voice has matured. I think it’s stronger now than it ever has been. Industry wise, everything has changed. Technology, how the fans are buying an listening to our music,” she says, adding that one thing has stayed the same: the music. “It’s still relatable topics. Whether it’s divorce, getting together, being in love, cheating or being cheated on — those things stayed the same.”
The ACM Awards air on CBS Sunday, April 15, at 8 p.m. ET.