Reba McEntire Passes on Talking to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley For a Few Moments With Late Mother in Tribute “Seven Minutes in Heaven”

When Reba McEntire‘s father, Clark McEntire, died on October 23, 2014, at age 86, she dedicated the music video for her 2016 song “Just Like Them Horses,” from her 2015 album Love Somebody, to him. “This is a song about goodbye, closure, and letting go,” said Reba of the ballad. 

In the black and white video, McEntire is seen walking through her family farm in Chockie, Oklahoma and also features her real mother, Jacqueline Smith, driving in a truck to meet up with her daughter.

On March 14, 2020, Smith also passed away at 93 after a battle with cancer, and McEntire found herself in a familiar place. While processing her grief, she was given a song that described what she would want to do if she was granted a few minutes in Heaven.

Videos by American Songwriter

‘I wouldn’t ask Cash why he wore all black’

If I had seven minutes in Heavеn / I’d spend them all with you, sings McEntire on “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” written by Matthew Wynn and Olivia Rudeenfrom, for her 2023 album Not That Fancy. In the song, McEntire wouldn’t try to find out why John F. Kennedy died, have Elvis Presley to sing, or ask God questions. Instead, she’d want a few minutes to speak to her mother again.

“I dedicated this song to my mama,” wrote McEntire on Instagram in 2023. “She took a trip to heaven in 2020 and I’d give anything to visit her up there for seven minutes.”

I wouldn’t ask Cash why he wore all black
Or have Elvis sing me a song
I wouldn’t ask why Kennedy died
‘Cause I know that I wouldn’t have long
I wouldn’t small talk with Peter ’bout those pearly gates
I’d ask him to let me on in
And I’d say there’s somebody waiting on the other side
That I’d really like to catch up with

If I had seven minutes in Heaven
I know just what I’d do
Take a walk down those golden streets
And find a quiet corner booth
I wouldn’t spend all my seconds asking God questions
‘Cause He knows I’d be back soon
If I had seven minutes in Heaven
I’d spend them all with you

How’s the fishing up there
Have you been getting our prayers
We’ve been sending them every night
The only issue here is oh, Lord, we miss you
But I swear we’re doing alright

Does the weather get colder?
Do you ever grow older?
Does it feel like the blink of an eye?
‘Cause I’m so glad to be here
And I sure hope they serve beer
‘Cause, for me, it’s been a long time

“When you find a song that really touches your heart and chokes you up, I gotta sing it,” said McEntire on Today. “I gotta record it, and that’s what you’re always looking for, is a song that touches your heart. That way, when I sing it, hopefully it’ll touch your heart too.”

[RELATED: The Touching Tribute Reba McEntire Wrote for Her Late Father, “Daddy”]

“I Didn’t Want to Sing”

During her first season as a coach on The Voice in 2023, McEntire shared an emotional performance of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” but admitted that it was difficult for her to think about music or singin after the death of her mother.

“Oh I didn’t want to [sing],” said McEntire. “I told my little sister Susie when we were working at the house, I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to sing anymore.’ She said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because I always sang for mama.’”

She added, “Mama was the one that inspired us kids, taught us kids how to sing, took us to our singing gigs and was our biggest cheerleader.”

The National Anthem to Nashville

Smith was there with McEntire in the earliest moments of her career. When Red Steagall first heard McEntire singing the national anthem, which she regularly performed at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1974, and invtied her to record a demo in Nashville, it was her mother who drove her there.

“Mama was the one who drove me all the way out to Nashville,” shared McEntire in a TikTok video. “She could tell something was wrong because I kept suggesting that we stop for ice cream or food at every tourist trap along the way. I knew what a big opportunity this was, but I didn’t know if I was ready.”

Eventually her mother pushed her to talk. “She said, ‘Now Reba, let me tell you something,'” remembered McEntire. “‘If you don’t want to go to Nashville. If you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to go. We can turn right around and go back home. But if you do this, I’ll be living my dreams through you.'”

Reba continued, “I said ‘Well shoot far. Why didn’t you say that in the first place?’ Thank God for mama’s perspective. Home would always be there for me, but I was in the middle of a reallife fairy tale.”

[RELATED: 4 Songs You Didn’t Know Reba McEntire Wrote Solo]

“You Never Gave Up on Me”

Several months before her mother’s death, McEntire also paid tribute to her mother with “You Never Gave Up on Me,” the closing track of her 2019 album Stronger Than The Truth. McEntire sent the song to her mother to hear on Christmas Eve.

“She sat there and listened to it,” said Reba. “I sent the lyrics and everything to make sure she heard every word. And she cried. She was very appreciative. She loved it. But I meant it with all my heart.”

Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Gateway Celebrity Fight Night Foundation

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