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Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Sara Evans lead a sizzlin' summer tour

Story by Bob Paxman • Illustration by Brad Walker

Call up your best friends. Pack your party clothes. Get ready to pull an all-nighter. And you can spend it with five fun-loving females on the summer's hottest tour,

Girls' Night Out, which will showcase the talents of Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Jamie O'Neal and newcomer Carolyn Dawn Johnson.

"I am so excited to get back on the road," exclaims Reba, fresh from her acclaimed stint on Broadway in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. "And I am especially thrilled to share the stage with these super-talented ladies!"

The 24-city tour kicks off July 13 in Las Vegas, and every one of "the girls" can't wait to get the party started.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson, who hit earlier this year with "Georgia," is definitely pumped. "What a great name for a tour - a lot of women are going to be excited about it," she raves. "And what better place to get a party going than Las Vegas?"

For Martina, the tour is more like a class reunion. "I sang with Reba on her hit 'On My Own.' And Carolyn Dawn Johnson has been on the road with me as a backup singer," says Martina. "I'm really gearing up for this tour, and I think it's an incredible thing that we're doing."

But what they're doing - an all-female tour - would have been unheard of 10 years ago, when country's "hats" ruled the roost. Carolyn believes the current climate is right for this type of show.

"It's just a natural evolution," she declares. "I think that women are allowed to be a little more outside the lines, and now fans are connecting with our music. And women are having more of a voice."

But make no mistake, Girls' Night Out is not country's version of the so-called "chick flick," a movie made to appeal largely to women. Jamie O'Neal, who soared to No. 1 with her debut single, "There Is No Arizona," and the other gals want men to join the fun, too.

"First of all, there will be many pretty females for them to look at," Jamie offers with a laugh. "Our love songs are, of course, sung about men, so this could be a very romantic evening for a couple. And, hey, guys - you'll score a lot of points if you buy two tickets to our show!"

The show promises to be easy on the ears, as well as the eyes.

"We all have a lot in common, yet we're all in different stages of our careers," says Martina, who was involved in planning the show. "You have acts that are new, like Carolyn and Jamie, and there's Sara, who is really coming along. Then you have Reba and myself. We wanted to have a wide range of female artists who have something different and unique to offer for the fans this summer."

Jamie agrees. "There is no one on the tour that you could say sounds like any of the others," she says. "Each one of us has our own style, which I think is great. It's a very diverse group."

And Jamie's glad to be in their company, as Girls' Night Out marks her first national tour. "People ask me if I'm nervous about it," she explains, "but I'm a lot more excited than nervous. We'll have lots of energy and running around. We'll definitely get the crowd going! And I know the fans will have a great time with us."

Carolyn will get the good times rolling, starting each show with a short acoustic set. "I'm the opening-opening-opening act," she jokes. "But I'll take it!"

And the fans will take home plenty of great memories. "Reba goes on last," notes Martina, "then we all come out and do something together at the end of the show. It's going to be exciting."

But Girls' Night Out excites Martina for another reason - she's watching a dream finally become reality. "This is something I talked about doing every year with different artists for a few years," she says. "This is the first year - we'll see how it goes and where it goes.

"And who knows? Maybe we can do it again next year!"