JANET: I’m trying to picture you as a teenager in Texas, packing up a U-Haul trailer and driving to Nashville!
LINDA: I was just doing what I had to do to follow my dream. All I knew was that I-40 east took me to the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t know how I’d get to the stage, but I knew that was the right highway.
I became a receptionist for a small studio and occasionally sang demos and jingles. Shortly after I started my job, I met a songwriter who became my husband, Lang Scott, and we have been married for almost 27 years. All I wanted to do was sing, but in the process I got a bonus—my soul-mate. Eventually I signed a record deal with CBS, but we did not tour.
JANET: Then Reba McEntire heard you sing…
LINDA: We recorded a lot of songs for Reba to consider, and she began to inquire as to this voice she kept hearing. Some time later, we were both singing at a fair. I was following the armadillo race, and she was headlining in the arena. Her husband came and heard my set and invited me to meet Reba backstage. They signed me to their management company and I began touring with her, singing backup. My husband, Lang, began playing in her band. Our daughter, Hillary, was traveling with us. It was a family affair and we liked it that way. We didn’t think Hillary was paying attention to what we were doing back then, but now, when I hear her interviews, I see that she really was!
JANET: One of my favorite moments on the CMA awards was when you and Reba performed the duet, ‘Does He Love You?’
LINDA: Reba and I had such fun. There were nice things before and a lot of great things since, but that was a career changer. That duet took on a life of its own. That night on the awards show, I was nervous because I knew that I needed to do good for her; she is always cool under pressure. One of the things that happens when you “pay your dues” is that you get to know people; it makes you feel as though you belong. Confidence comes from that. Even though I was out of my element, there were so many people that I knew apart from Reba — relationships Lang and I had made on our own: backstage people, crew guys, makeup artists. They were pulling for me, excited for me. You can’t just waltz into town and step into a situation and appreciate it like that without having paid your dues. That happens after you build relationships. It is your history that brings about that kind of satisfaction. It’s hard to tell young people to just wait and earn it, but that’s what Lang and I have taught our kids: if you have to wait for something, it can be really special.
JANET: Tell me about the night you and she won the Grammy for Best Country Collaboration.
LINDA: Lang and I didn’t go. Reba didn’t either. We were washing clothes, getting ready to leave town! You never know what is going to strike a chord or hit a nerve with the fans. We knew when we sang it live and in the studio, there was magic there. But it all just worked out great.
JANET: Your daughter, Hillary, has met with outrageous success as the lead singer for Lady Antebellum. How does the satisfaction of her success compare to yours?
LINDA: If anybody’s going to surpass what I’ve accomplished, I want it to be my children! That is even more fulfilling than anything that I ever enjoyed. Hillary is grounded in the Lord and our other daughter, Wylee, is a wonderful Christian girl with a real heart for the Lord.
JANET: What advice did you have for Hillary when she decided to pursue a career in music?
LINDA: Both Lang and I were side people. Some artists get a record deal and they make it big, but they never see the side of being in the band where there was always a feeling of camaraderie. Hillary has never been a side person. She doesn’t know how it is, so we tell her. She needs to consider things from their point of view. Lang and I have nothing to gain or lose by telling her, except that she needs to know. He and I both look on our past as an opportunity to give her a leg up.
JANET: And in conclusion?
LINDA: Everything happens for a reason, and if we force something, it’s not the best for us. Working with Reba was wonderful, but we could not be yoked together forever. We’ve got some hardware sitting around that we dust off occasionally, but the most important thing we have are great stories and an enduring friendship. It’s a great scrapbook of life: it’s a chapter but not the entire book.