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Watch Reba McEntire Celebrate Her Opry Anniversary With Epic Surprise Guests

Reba McEntire‘s Friday night (Sept. 22) performance at the Grand Ole Opry is a night neither the singer, nor her fans, will soon forget. The event, in honor of the 40th anniversary of McEntire’s debut on the hallowed stage, included some of McEntire’s most beloved hits, and a few epic surprise appearances from fellow country superstars.

Vince Gill, who officially shared the bill with McEntire at the Opry on Friday night, had the privilege of introducing McEntire to the sold-out crowd, after those in attendance watched a video montage of McEntire’s career.

“She’s been a dear friend of mine for many, many years — 35 years we’ve been friends,” Gill told the crowd. “There’s not many people in life that you can guarantee they’ve got your back. This is one of my best friends in the world: Reba McEntire.”

“I’ve had more hairdos over my career than I could shake a stick at, but I’ve enjoyed them, and every time I see one, I say, ‘Yep. I did that,'” McEntire joked in response to seeing some of the pictures from early on in her career. Onstage, she recounted how she felt on the first night she was invited to perform at the Opry, saying it was both exciting and terrifying.

“It was a lot of fun, it was nerve-wracking, it was scary,” McEntire admitted, taking the time to thank her many family members who made the trip to Nashville for the celebration. “It’s been a wonderful 40 years. I couldn’t have done it without you, and I wouldn’t have wanted to.”

During her Opry anniversary show, McEntire sang several of her beloved hits, including “Invitation to the Blues,” “Somebody Should Leave” and “Oklahoma Swing.” Carrie Underwood, who took the stage earlier in the night as a surprise guest, joined McEntire to sing the legend’s famous duet, “Does He Love You.” They earned a standing ovation.

“Just this far on the map from each other, two little ol’ gals from Oklahoma, getting to be on the stage together,” McEntire said of the duet.

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McEntire also recalled her first Opry performance, when she was asked to sing just one song, instead of two, so Dolly Parton, who appeared unannounced at the Opry that night, could perform. It was fitting, then, that the biggest surprise of the night occurred when Parton showed up onstage.

“I could not miss this chance,” gushed Parton. “I remember 40 years ago, when you made your debut, I was here for some reason, and you were supposed to have two spots on the Opry, and they gave me one of them. I just wanted to give it back to you tonight, because I’m not even going to take a spot. I just wanted to come out and say hello and congratulations.”

“They said, ‘Clear the halls, Dolly Parton’s walking in,'” McEntire remembered. “And I walked up, and I flattened up against that wall, and you walked by me in a black chiffon pantsuit, with butterflied rhinestones on it, and I thought, ‘My gosh, that’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.'”

After Parton and Underwood brought a cake onstage to commemorate the night, McEntire closed out the show with “Fancy.” She then exited the stage to thunderous applause.

McEntire, along with Brooks & Dunn, will return to Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 29, to reprise their Reba, Brooks & Dunn Together in Vegas residency. McEntire will also serve as the host of CMA Country Christmas 2017, which is scheduled to air on Nov. 27 on ABC. A list of all of her upcoming events is available on her website.

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