Reba McEntire is one of the most successful female musicians of all time, but for the 52-year-old, professional success doesn’t compare to her personal triumphs. Married to Narvel Blackstock, Reba has a son Shelby, 17, and tells OK! at Billboard’s Top 20 Women in Music Breakfast last month that family is the most important thing in life.

What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge in my life is getting all these kids raised. I’ve helped with nieces, stepchildren and my own son, so the biggest challenge is making sure the kids are raised and finding enough quality time with them.

How about your proudest moment?
Having Shelby. He’s a good kid. I just love motherhood.

How do you balance your personal life and your career?
I have the attention span of a 2-year-old. I like to jump from project-to-project. Narvel made sure we took the time to schedule properly. We work as a great team not only as artist and manager but as husband and wife and best friend. We can argue, and we can communicate, and put business aside and take off and have a great vacation and fight when we come back. It’s important to spend a lot of time as family. We work hard on our projects. He knows we’ve got to keep it diversified for me. I give 110 percent on each project but don’t spend too long on one thing because I’ve got to jump over here because I’ve also got a clothing line, bath line, shoe line to go along with the other things.

How do you do it?
We work hard and play hard.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Do not sweat the small stuff over the course of your life. Narvel and I have been talking, and we’ve seen artists get so upset and so uptight to the point that they’re sick. Like, “Oh I’m losing my voice, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go on at the time.” They’re there to sing, but more importantly, people want to see you sing. They can go home and listen to your records. If you don’t hit that high note, no big deal. Seventy-five percent won’t know that in the first place. Just go out there and let them know you’re having a great time and you’re glad to be there. It works; it really does.

Any advice on family?
I don’t think quantity time is as special as quality time with your family. If I had to say a thing I regretted in my life, it’s not spending enough time with my family. Then I look back and I think that the quality times were so special. I’m a big fan of that. I cherish the times we’re all together. My son Shelby’s like, “Did you take pictures of anybody but me?” Ever since I was six months pregnant up to now. It’s those special times you spend with your family. Make time for family.

What’s the biggest challenge for women in the workplace?
Being a woman, we are in a man’s world. We do double-time work. When I got into the music business in 1976, there weren’t many women on the roster. As a woman, you don’t complain, you work twice as hard and you do your job. You try to outsmart them, you try to outwork them and get there first. You help out, you volunteer, you’re at the front of the line. That’s what I learned from working on the cattle range, and it helped me in the music business. Women are the backbone of family, of our country, and they have been forever. I’m very proud to be a working woman.

For more from Reba, check out the latest issue of OK! — on newsstands now!

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