Country singer Kellie Coffey is one of my favorites. Where did she get her start? I read that Reba McEntire helped her. Is that true?
—Fred C., Tennessee
Though Coffey thinks of Reba McEntire as one of her musical heroes, the two of them have no professional connection. Coffey did, however, sing background for Barbra Streisand both on her Millenium album and at her New Year's 2000 concert in Las Vegas. Another star connection—Coffey attended the same high school as Toby Keith. The Moore, Okla., native says she's been singing for as long as she can remember. Her gift became apparent when she started singing in church, and she soon started voice and piano lessons. At 9, she sang in public for the first time at the Oklahoma Opry, belting out the Tanya Tucker hit, Promenade. She loved singing with a band and having an audience. After graduating from Oklahoma University, Coffey pursued a musical career in Los Angeles, starting out as a singing waitress. "I was a much better singer than waitress," she recalls. "Those poor people I waited on!" Eventually she established herself professionally, writing and singing for the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger, then doing jingles and other TV and film work. She started making trips to Nashville, hoping to make it as a country music artist. She has. Her first album was released in December 2001. Her first single, When You Lie Next To Me, led to a Top New Female Vocalist nomination by the Academy of Country Music, and she is currently on tour with Kenny Chesney. She and her husband, Geoff, live in Nashville.