Lee Ann Womack feature-The Oklahoman
Dream comes true for Lee Ann Womack
COUNTRY MUSIC: She’s touring with King George — and Reba, too
BY BRANDY McDONNELL
Published: February 19, 2010
When country singer Lee Ann Womack was asked at the last minute to open the first concert in the new Cowboys Stadium, she was thrilled not only to be part of her home state’s sports history but also to share a bill with superstars George Strait and Reba McEntire.
George Strait and Reba McEntire with guest Lee Ann Womack
?When: 7 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
?Where: BOK Center, 200 S Denver, Tulsa.
?Tickets: Sold out.
?Information: (866) 726-5287 or www.bokcenter.com.
"It’s really like Texas football fans’ answer to the Vatican,” said Womack, who filled in at the June 6, 2009, show for an ill Julianne Hough. "It’s just a gorgeous building. To be there with George Strait was really a big deal. It’s a little bit of Texas history now: I got be the first act to play in that stadium.”
The Jacksonville, Texas, native never imagined that the one-off gig in the Dallas Cowboys’ new home would lead to her current job as opening act for a traveling double-bill featuring the reigning king and queen of country.
"When I was a little girl, I had dreamed of touring with George and everything. I don’t even think I dreamed big enough to think of touring with George and Reba,” she said with a laugh in a phone interview this week from her snow-blanketed home in Nashville, Tenn.
"It’s a really big deal for me just to go out there and watch Reba sing, and then the times I’ve gotten to do a duet with her, just walking up on that stage, I cannot believe I’m standing onstage with Reba McEntire.”
The tour is making a stop Saturday at Tulsa’s BOK Center, where it sold out in less than an hour. The concert set a record for the venue, marking the first time more than 18,000 tickets have been sold for one event.
The Texas "Troubadour” and the redheaded Oklahoma native got the idea to launch their super tour from the Cowboys Stadium show, said Tommy Foote, Strait’s longtime manager.
"I reminded Reba, I think it had been 15 years, maybe even longer, (since) we’d opened the Palace of Auburn Hills (in Michigan). ... Everybody was talking and joking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to tour together,’ and then the next thing I know, we’re touring together,” he said. "It’s a great, great show. I just think Reba is just such a tremendous entertainer and singer and person. And man, I’m partial to Lee Ann; I think she’s got the best voice in music.”
When she heard two of her musical heroes would be touring together, Womack, 43, said she reacted with the same excitement country fans showed.
"I was fired up when I heard about it, just about the tour in general. And then when they called me and asked me to come be a part of it, I just couldn’t even believe it,” she said.
Womack, whose hits include "A Little Past Little Rock,” "I’ll Think of a Reason Later” and the crossover smash "I Hope You Dance,” has toured with Strait in the past. But this marks her first opportunity to tour with Reba.
"I love working with George, of course, and Reba has been awesome. I’ve really, really enjoyed getting to know her, and it’s fun. I mean, her dressing room’s like right across the hall, so we just go back and forth chitchatting,” she said.
Growing up an aspiring singer, Womack said she was inspired by both stars, particularly Strait, with whom she shares a zeal for traditional country music. She and King George have recorded a pair of duets; their latest collaboration, "Everything But Quits,” was nominated this year for a Grammy.
"When I was in high school, he was coming up really strong in the ’80s,” she said. "I just went to his shows quite a bit, listened to his records, and he was a big influence on me. And I think, too, we like a lot of the same kind of stuff. So, I think ‘like minds’ is a good term to describe us as far as music goes.”
The tour offers Womack a chance to share her signature songs and new music with huge crowds. In between dates, she is finishing a new album, due out in summer. The first single, the fervent anthem "There Is a God,” already has been released.
"Once again, there I am throwing out there what I think,” Womack, who has built a reputation not only as a country traditionalist but also a risk-taker, said with a laugh. "That’s another great thing about being on this tour ... this’ll lead right up to the record coming out.”
From now through April, Womack intends to relish every moment of traveling with the George and Reba hit parade.
"My manager says, ‘Nothing but hits, baby,’” Womack said. "From the time I start in through Reba’s show all the way through George’s show, people get to hear a lot of hits.”