Country star Reba McEntire has dazzled people with her music for decades now. But her personal life also sounds like perfect material for a country music song. McEntire went through an agonizing split in 2015, and didn’t expect to find love again for a long time. But she did. It wasn’t easy, but she managed to fix her broken heart.
McEntire has been married a couple of times. Her first marriage was to Charlie Battles, whom she wed in 1976. But by 1987 she had divorced him, and this led to some unpleasant public backlash. Two years after the split she told People magazine, “I have talked so much about my private life [in the past] that when I got this divorce, I got lambasted.”
But McEntire quickly got back in the saddle. In 1989 she married Narvel Blackstock, her manager. They became a power couple of the country music world, running the company Starstruck Entertainment together. McEntire gained three stepchildren from the marriage, and also had a son with Blackstock.
Via her marriage to Blackstock, McEntire also gained a close friend. This was fellow singer Kelly Clarkson, who married Blackstock’s son Brandon in 2013. In 2014, Kelly and Brandon had their first child, a daughter named River Rose. While appearing on Watch What Happens Live in April 2015, Clarkson described McEntire as “one of my heroes.”
While still married to Blackstock, McEntire released a song called “The Day She Got Divorced.” She told TV chatshow Good Morning America in 2010 that the track, “talks about going through a divorce, having children, helping your buddies out, finding the right guy in their life, and then telling the guy he’s treated you bad.”
And unfortunately, that was a situation McEntire would shortly afterwards have to face all over again. In early August 2015, she and Blackstock released a statement via McEntire’s official website. It revealed that regrettably, after over two decades together, their marriage had run its course and had come to an end.
The release read, “Narvel Blackstock and Reba McEntire have announced that they have been separated for the past few months, after 26 years of marriage. Despite this being the end of their marriage, they continue to support each other. They have worked together for 35 years and will continue to do so. They have asked that you respect their privacy during this time.”
According to an anonymous insider who spoke to Us Weekly magazine the day after the announcement, Clarkson had tried to keep McEntire and Blackstock together. The source said, “They’ve been living apart for two years. Kelly urged them not to split and she’s the reason they didn’t split earlier.”
The week of the announcement, McEntire’s friend Melissa Peterson told TV show Entertainment Tonight that the singer was coping with the divorce okay. Peterson said, “I’ve talked to her and she’s doing great. Beyond what she said in her statement, I love her and wish her all my love, and that’s all I can say right now.”
In December 2015 McEntire confirmed on Facebook that the divorce had gone through. She wrote, “Narvel and I are divorced. It was final[ized on] Oct[ober] 28.” Lots of people offered her their sympathies, and McEntire responded to them, “Thanks for all of those sweet messages. Narvel and I are friends. We have always been.”
However, it transpired that there was a lot of hurt behind the scenes. In March 2016 McEntire told Cody Alan of Country Music Television (CMT), “The divorce was not my idea. I didn’t want it in any shape, form or fashion.” She went on, “So, it was really hard to make the adjustment when someone’s not happy. I just want everybody to be happy in their lives, because our lives are too short to be miserable.”
McEntire went into more detail during an interview with Parade magazine that same month. She said, “I have a long list and so many questions for God. Why did this happen? And how did you allow that? Over the last two years I’ve been going through a divorce.” McEntire is a devoted Christian.
McEntire continued on to Parade, “God’s way is the best way. And it seems to me that Narvel is happier and I’m in a really good state of mind. It’s taken me this time to pull through why and how. And there’s been a lot between us and I believe that to forgive is easier than forget.”
McEntire went on, hinting at something beneath the surface, “I can never forget some of what he did. But going on with life is what’s really important. And my faith helped me with that. I think about what God wants me to do. I focus on that. Faith is really important. It keeps me sane and it keeps me hopeful.”
At the end of the interview McEntire sought to reassure her fans, saying, “I’m totally enjoying life and having the time of my life… I do want my fans to know that I’m very happy. They worry about me because of the divorce. I’m very happy and I’m glad that Narvel is happy. What more can I ask for?”
Some people think Blackstock had been unfaithful to McEntire. On McEntire’s Instagram she sometimes posed with her friend Laura Putty Stroud, and rumor had it that Blackstock cheated with her. An anonymous source told website Page Six in 2016, “It’s unclear when they started dating. The word on the street is that they’re getting married.”
Throughout all this, McEntire remained strong. Her faith helped her, she told web channel FOX411 Country in August 2016. “Without [faith], I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “I guess I would have been a puddle on the floor. You’ve got to have somebody to talk to. And God is my therapist and best friend.”
In December 2016, McEntire sat down with Entertainment Tonight and said she was open to finding love again. She explained to Nancy O’Dell, “I’m just taking it one day at a time and loving life and enjoying being with my friends and family as much as I possibly can.” She added that she had been “blindsided” by the divorce.
McEntire went on, “I think it’s always nice to have somebody to go to dinner with and fall in love with, I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.” And she said that her son with Blackstock, car racer Shelby, had advised her as a 61-year-old woman, “not to date anyone younger than 50.”
McEntire could be forgiven for thinking, after her painful divorce, that she wouldn’t find love again for a long time. But fate, it seemed, had other plans for her. When on holiday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2017, her friend Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn introduced her to a man called Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo.
McEntire took Lasuzzo to the 2018 Grammy Awards in January of that year. That same month McEntire told website Taste of Country how they had met. “Kix and Barbara Brooks thought it’d be a good idea, since we were gonna be up around Yellowstone, to get Kix’s best friend’s wife’s brother to show us around,” she said.
That proved to be Lasuzzo, a widower, retired oil geologist, and wildlife photographer. He led McEntire and her friends around the area, showing them the animals and having dinner with the visitors. But then, McEntire told the website, “I made another trip to Jackson Hole, because I just love it up there, and he asked me out for a date – just the two of us. And we’ve been dating ever since.”
McEntire admitted that starting a new relationship was scary for her, “because you never know,” but she was still thrilled. “Skeeter and I get along really well. We love the mountains. Everything that we have encountered … we love going to plays in New York,” she excitedly informed Taste of Country.
McEntire and Lasuzzo had something else in common, McEntire explained. “He was in the oil and gas business, so being from Oklahoma, I was very familiar with that,” she said. “As a matter of fact my very first job other than singing was checking records with an oil lease company! It’s so funny.”
In April of that year, friend Melissa Peterman told Closer Weekly magazine how thrilled she was that McEntire had found love. “I see her completely at ease with him. He adores her wholeheartedly, which is what we all want, right?” she said. She went on, “He is a confident guy. And when you’re hanging with the crazy crew that Reba has, you gotta be a good sport and be able to roll, and he totally does!”
McEntire gave an interview to The Saturday Evening Post newspaper in October 2018, and talked about how far she had come since her divorce. Referring to that difficult time, she said, “I think that kind of split is hard on anybody. I’m no different than anyone who’s ever gone through a divorce or a death. Even if you’re in the public eye, the hurt’s the same.”
She went on, “I don’t have any secrets, because people pretty much know everything. Time has passed and I’m a happy camper. I have a new love in my life, and I have done things that I couldn’t have gotten to do before, so I’m always a firm believer that timing is everything and everything happens for a reason.”
Some things still worried McEntire though, and the breakup still hurt her. She explained, “There’s a lot of things I miss. I worry for my family, because a divorce hurts more than just the two people who get divorced. It’s a ripple effect.” She went on, “It’s everybody that is involved. It changes everybody’s lives.”
But Lasuzzo has been a massive help. McEntire praised Skeeter’s straightforwardness and sense of fun. She added, “I think being very secure in his own skin makes it a lot easier to deal with the things he has to deal with for me. He’s a very confident, secure man, and so he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, and we have a wonderful time with all the stuff that we’re getting to do.”
The man who introduced McEntire to Lasuzzo also thought he was good for her. In February 2019 Kix Brooks told radio DJ Blair Garner, “He’s a great guy. They’re having fun. He’s dragging her out there, taking her beyond her comfort zone in some things – you see her all wrapped up in Jackson Hole in the Tetons chasing elk around.”
In April 2019 after McEntire and Lasuzzo had been together for some time, the famed country singer excitedly told People magazine all about her new beau. Reba absolutely adored her new partner. “We’re totally in love – absolutely,” she said. “I wouldn’t put up with somebody for two years if I wasn’t in love with ’em!”
But she was surprised, McEntire said, that new love had come into her life so fast. She had met Lasuzzo, she told People, at a time when she was “not looking, not even interested.” Her new album Stronger Than The Truth was all about heartbreak, but McEntire’s own love life was going fine.
Lasuzzo had a house located right near where McEntire’s family lived, the singer told People. She explained, “He lives right there on the lake [Texoma], got a beautiful home. And then when we go to Jackson Hole, we snowshoe and walk and get into nature… [We] go up and see my momma. Yeah, it’s my backyard.”
Lasuzzo knew how to handle the celebrity world, McEntire also said. Whenever they made public appearances together, they would “color coordinate a little bit.” And there was more. “He was in oil and gas, and he gave speeches and talks and dealt with the public, and so he understands a lot more than someone else might… It came natural for him,” McEntire explained.
McEntire told People that Lasuzzo’s wife Marolyn had died in 2017 after fighting breast cancer for seven years. She left behind four children, Blake, Kristi, Holli, and Tyler. Sharing offspring is something of which McEntire has previous experience. She considers Blackstock’s kids to be essentially hers as well.
In fact, McEntire said as much during an interview with website The Boot in 2010. “I don’t consider Brandon, Chassidy and Shawna [Blackstock’s children from a previous relationship] step-children … I claim them all,” she said. The same goes for the kids which the Blackstocks had in turn: McEntire considers them her own grandchildren.
At about the same time as her People interview, McEntire gave one to Entertainment Tonight. Again, she gushed about her new boyfriend. “We’re having a great time, traveling the world and seeing things and having fun,” she said. “I’m still working and loving what I do. I’m at a time in my life where I’m very grateful, very content [and] very calm. Love it.”
And in April 2019 McEntire also spoke to Country Living magazine. She talked about how she and Lasuzzo loved to travel. “Last year we were in Africa, Italy, and Iceland. We want to go to New Zealand,” she said. And she added that Lasuzzo would be joining her and Kelly Clarkson at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards that year.
Clarkson, too, seemed to like Lasuzzo – and as McEntire’s daughter-in-law and good friend, her opinion was prized. TV channel Extra spoke to her at the ACM Awards, and she said of Lasuzzo, “He’s cool, love him, our whole family does. He’s a great human and just a solid dude.”
Just a quick glance at McEntire’s Instagram will inform the viewer how much she loves Lasuzzo. One picture from 2018 is captioned, “Whether we’re in the mountains of Wyoming or in Italy, flying or riding the train, Skeeter and I have a great time!” And just for the record, by the way, McEntire did indeed heed her son’s initial dating advice – as of September 2019, Lasuzzo is 70 years young.