Story Behind the Song: Reba McEntire, ‘Turn on the Radio’
Cherie Oakley, Mark Oakley and J.P. Twang co-wrote "Turn on the Radio," a song that was recorded by Reba McEntire and released in July of 2010, as the lead single from her 2010 All the Women I Am album. The tune became McEntire's 60th Top 10 single on the country charts and, at the beginning of 2011, her 25th No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. McEntire was the first female country artist to achieve the former feat, and the latter accomplishment tied Dolly Parton's record for the most No. 1 songs by a female country artist.
Below, Cherie Oakley tells The Boot about the inspiration behind "Turn on the Radio," and the surprising phone call she received that sealed the deal.
I co-wrote this song with Mark Oakley and J.P. Twang. It's always so much fun when the three of us get together and make music. We are able to bring such completely different thoughts to the table, which makes it really interesting. We sort of push each other to different levels in different ways.
The song started with just a simple idea: a strong woman who had been done wrong by her man, and now he wants to get back in touch. We all sat down one morning in May in our home studio, and Mark began playing a riff on his guitar. This really set the stage for the entire attitude of the song. With that and the basic idea, it just all started flowing out of us. Different melody ideas and lyrics just came pouring out.
We set out to write something upbeat, fun and in your face. I'm not a writer who can sit down and try to write a song specifically for someone; I'm a singer and an artist, so I always write what I would like to say and how I would like to say it. Every singer wants an attitude song -- something they can really sink their teeth into.
This song had only been completed a matter of days when Reba's people stumbled upon it. Reba actually called and asked me personally if she could cut the song. She is such a brilliant artist, who has influenced me and so many others in so many ways. It truly was a surreal experience. When I said yes, she was so excited! She said, "You have made my day, Cherie." I was like, "No, YOU have made MY day!"
Reba cut it within 24 hours of that phone call. I felt so honored to find out that she wanted me to sing the background vocals on it as well. It was such a cool experience to hear it for the first time. Words can't really describe it. She just nailed the vocals, and [producer] Dann Huff, as always, did amazing work with the production. I just was blown away. When you write a song, you have a distinct vision for it. I have to say, I could not be happier.
Reba called again to let us know that it would be the first single chosen to promote her [All the Women I Am] album. We just sat there speechless! ... It [was] my first major cut -- CRAZY!
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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