Reba McEntire knew she'd enjoy getting to mentor young musical talents as a coach on The Voice. She just didn't realize quite how much.

"I didn't know that I would fall in love with it," McEntire reflects to Taste of Country Nights' Evan Paul when asked what surprised her most about her coaching gig on the show.

McEntire's currently in her first-ever season as coach, but she's already signed on to return for another round after Season 24 concludes.

Of course, a big part of that love is for her fellow coaches: Niall Horan, Gwen Stefani and John Legend.

"When we took our break — we don't go back until after Thanksgiving—- I was texting everybody, saying 'I miss you guys! What're y'all doing now? Can we get together?'" the star continues.

But just as important to her is her role as a mentor to artists who are at the very beginning of their musical careers. McEntire isn't scared to get personally invested in the contestants on her team: In a recent episode, the country coach openly wept while watching two of her contestants perform a heart-wrenching rendition of Lauren Daigle's "You Say," for example.

"Now, this is a song, in my mind, a conversation between me and the Lord," she explained to the young singers, sharing exactly why the song has such a powerful effect on her. "And [when] I am in a very depressed state, I think I'm worthless. So when you are singing this song, it's very humbling. It's baring your soul. So it's not much movement when you're performing. It's — you're broken."

McEntire's got no qualms about crying on television, she admits. The most important thing to her is that the performers know how a song's affecting her, even if that means shedding tears.

"I want my contestants, my artists, to know when it touches my heart, because that's what I preach all the time. If you're singing the song and there's no emotion to it, it's just a song," she adds. "You can make it so much more incredible by putting the emotion in. Because if you do that, if you've got emotion in your heart when you sing it, I'm gonna feel it, and your job's complete."

The Voice airs on Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC.

The Top 40 Country Songs of 2023, Ranked

The best country songs of 2023 fit snugly over your life and experiences. Each is written from personal experiences, but somehow, translate as if they were custom to each of us.

We've loved, we've longed, we've lost and we've cut loose in the country.

Airplay charts, sales data and streaming numbers helped make this list of country music's Top 40 songs of 2023, but staff and Taste of Country reader opinion were most influential. Songs included on previous Top Country Songs lists were not eligible. A song may have been released in 2022, but it had to have the majority of recorded airplay or impact this year to count.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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