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Queen of country

You don't manage to sell in excess of 40 million albums in the United States alone -- with another 10 million or so moved in various other parts of the globe -- without learning when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. So it's not really surprising that Reba McEntire -- widely regaled as the "Queen of Country" -- had a bit of advice for any budding young country star who might find themselves in a similar position to the one occupied by Taylor Swift during the recent MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.

McEntire used her Twitter account the morning following the awards show, when the media was, um, a-twitter with the strange antics of Kanye West during Swift's hijacked moment of glory, to post:

"So proud of Taylor winning last night at the VMA's!!!! Way to go girl!!!!! Lesson to all of us to keep a firm grip on the microphone!!!!!"

"A firm grasp on just who you are and what you want to do, too," Reba might have added, for personal fortitude would seem to be the key ingredient in her nearly unrivaled string of triumphs across the span of her 30 years in "the biz." Knowing how to walk the tightrope between traditional country music and pop didn't hurt her, either.

McEntire brings her "Keep On Loving You" tour to the Avalon Ballroom, Niagara Fallsview Casino, for two nights of performances, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and continuing at the same time next Friday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

-- Jeff Miers

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