When Reba McIntyre was about to make her debut on one of the famous New York stages, she knew that it would be one of the most important shows in her career. What was this place that she compared to the Grand Ole Opry in the northern United States? And why did she almost cancel her first performance there?
Reba McIntyre almost canceled her Carnegie Hall debut in New York
In the book Reba: My Story, McIntyre wrote that her upcoming Carnegie Hall debut in the late ’80s made her nervous, but not because of stage fright.
Ticket sales were deceptive. Since the famous venue relied on buying tickets “on the go”, it seemed to the influential country star and her team that they would not be able to make a profit in the run-up to the event.
“Not only have we lost a lot of money, but it would be very embarrassing if there was a low turnout at Carnegie Hall,” she wrote. “The biggest press in the country would be there…”
So, she was thinking about canceling a few weeks before the show. But in the end she decided to keep the concert on her schedule and bring it to an end.
Reba McIntyre wanted New York to see no one but Reba during her Carnegie Hall debut.
In her autobiography, McIntyre noted that her Carnegie Hall debut took place on October 28, 1987. Notably, this was the first time she wore a dress by costume designer Sandy Speke, who later designed her iconic red CMA Awards dress.
The dress was made of black suede with gold fringe, McIntyre wore cowboy boots and a belt buckle made personally for her. “It wasn’t what New York was used to, I’m sure, but I didn’t want New York to see anyone there except Reba,” she shared. “So I went by myself. No pathos— just me.”
We all know how her career turned out. But was there a turnout for her Carnegie Hall debut?
Reba McIntyre received applause even before she sang a note during her first performance at Carnegie Hall in New York.
“Cinema, Broadway, TV series (actually two), Carnegie Hall, a clothing line, a performance as the first female Colonel Sanders. She rebafiated our world.
McIntyre recalled how the first appearance on this iconic stage plunged her into a trance. When she looked out from behind the floodlights, she saw that the whole crowd was on its feet.
“I got a standing ovation even before I sang a note,” the Tremors star wrote in her autobiography. After she choked a little, it was difficult for her to perform her first song that night.
As a result, hundreds of people were refused the venue. “Our concerns about ticket sales and all these months of anxiety have been completely in vain,” McIntyre said.
“People came by subway from remote areas, and businessmen from Midtown Manhattan rushed straight from work with briefcases in their hands,” she shared.
In the end, according to the tradition of Carnegie Hall, an announcement of a sale appeared on posters near the building. “I wish I had one of these posters as a keepsake,” she concluded.