By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
Country and gospel singer Susie McEntire is bringing her big name and even bigger talent to Liberal for the Five State Fair.
McEntire will be performing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, after the winners of the Gospel Sing-Off perform at the Grandstands.
Tickets for the concert are $10 and can only be purchased at the gate -– they will not be having a pre-sale.
This won’t be McEntire’s first time in the area. She has performed in Beaver, Okla., and other locations in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles. Hailing from a ranch 30 miles south of McAlester, Okla., McEntire loves the area and rural communities like Liberal.
“I love the area because it’s filled with people who are from my kind of background, ranching and farming in the rural area,” McEntire said. “I was raised in an area that’s not highly populated, and so I know what it is like to be far away from town. My family were rodeo cowboys as well as ranchers.
“The land that I look at when I’m sitting on my porch is the very first piece of land that my mom and daddy bought when us kids were little, and the first land that he cleared to be able to have cattle.”
Growing up, McEntire sang with her siblings, Pake and Reba, in their musical trio, “The Singing McEntires.” Her successful sister, Reba, has greatly influenced Susie musically and professionally.
“She’s an inspiration to me, not only musically, but also work-wise,” McEntire said. “She works on her career constantly. She does interviews still, even as popular as she is. She still does meet-and-greets. She works on her show, her music. She’s right now working on the big campaign, Pray for Peace, which is on her Facebook page.”
Other influences on McEntire include Keith Urban and Paul Overstreet.
“I just love music that inspires people to do good,” she said.
McEntire still finds time to spend at her home on her family’s ranch, even when she’s on tour. Her husband, Mark Eaton, tours with her and is often by her side, according to McEntire’s website. He even helps her on stage by playing guitar.
McEntire has enjoyed success lately with several award nominations. She has been nomiated in the past for Gospel Music Association Dove awards, and has recently been nominated for ICMA Duet of the Year and Living Legend Award.
Her duet with John Clark Blackwell, “Give,” has been number one on the Inspirational Country Chart twice now: once two months ago, and then again this month. McEntire, however, remains humble and kind. She even stays behind after her shows to speak to fans and sign autographs, which is not something all artists do.
McEntire also enjoys checking out the fairs and the communities she performs in.
“We love to go downtown, we love to look at the downtown businesses and the local coffeeshops,” McEntire said. “We love to look at houses and get to know people. We’ll also come out to the fair a little bit earlier to get the feel of the fair. We go through the barns if we have time. We are very much advocates of the fair, and we encourage people to come out and support it. It’s a part of history, and it’s also a part of our present, our economy and our future.”
McEntire will also be playing in Hugoton’s fair at 7 p.m. Monday. Due to cost, she has not been able to play in Hugoton or Liberal in the past.
“We go to the Kansas Fair and Festivals Association in Topeka each year, and that’s where they usually hire their entertainment for the fair,” she said. “The guys at Hugoton, the past three years, would stand in a bunch. They would look at at me, and I would tease them; I would say ‘You need to have me at your fair.’ And they’d say ‘Oh, we don’t know.’ So this year, they made a beeline for us, and they said ‘This year we are going to hire you for our fair.’ And I was so excited. We had already booked Liberal by the time we had got to Topeka, and so we got the two fairs together because they’re so close in proximity.”
The proximity of the two shows will most likely not affect the turnout at either show.
“Liberal is wanting more of a gospel show than Hugoton, and we agreed to that,” McEntire said. “They’re going to have a gospel singing competition at Liberal, so the two go together very well. I would encourage everybody to come on out and go to both shows. They’re going to be a little different, but we always have a great time, and they’ll enjoy the shows.”
For more information about McEntire, visit her website at www.susiemcentire.com or her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/susiemcentire.