Reba McEntire could never have predicted the record-breaking, benchmark-setting career Garth Brooks would go on to have, but when he was first starting out — as an opening act for her show — she knew he was something special.

Before she ever heard him sing, McEntire's first impression of Brooks was that he bore a striking resemblance to her first husband, she recounts in a conversation with Taste of Country Nights' Evan Paul.

"He opened for me in Des Moines, Iowa. We were kinda, like, at a fair," McEntire remembers. "Jim Hammond, my tour manager at the time, came into my dressing room, and he said, 'You're not gonna believe the guy who's opening the show for you. He's from Oklahoma and he looks just like Charlie Battles.' That was my first husband. So I thought, 'I gotta go see that.'"

She immediately got up to go see for herself what her fellow Oklahoman was bringing to the stage. "I quit doing my hair and makeup and I walked up on the side of the stage," she continues. "He was bouncing around the stage and kinda wrestling with his guitar player, and I thought, 'I've never in my life seen anybody do this.'

"We started doing tours together in '90, '91, and I would go out and sit on the side of the stage [during his set]," McEntire relates. "He was just totally different — you couldn't take your eyes off him. And we've remained friends all these years. He's just one in a billion."

McEntire's met countless world-class entertainers over the years, but there's no one whose live presence compares to Brooks — with one exception.

"There's not another similar artist to Garth at all. I guess the closest would be Taylor Swift," McEntire says. "First time I ever saw Taylor Swift perform was on the ACMs. She did 'Tim McGraw' — the song — and she was singing right to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in the audience, playing a guitar and walking down the steps to go into the audience playing her guitar.

"I thought, 'Holy crap! She's new and she's doing all this?!'" the singer recounts. "I was totally, totally amazed with her — like Garth."

Currently, McEntire is molding the next generation of new musical talent — and hopefully discovering the next Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift — as a coach on The Voice. The show airs on NBC on Monday and Tuesday nights.

See Reba McEntire Through the Years:

How Well Do You Really Know Reba? 

More From Lonestar 99-5 FM