Reba McEntire has a profound understanding of loss and the depths of suffering, a sentiment that was amplified in 1991 when the iconic country music star faced an unimaginable tragedy. This pivotal moment in history occurred during a mesmerizing performance by Reba and her band at a prestigious event in San Diego, culminating in a devastating aircraft disaster.
On March 16, 1991, after their captivating show, arrangements were made for the band to fly from Brown Field Municipal Airport to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fate intervened, leaving Reba, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika in San Diego for the night while the rest of the band and tour manager boarded the ill-fated first plane.
In a poignant interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, Reba courageously recounted the tragic events. The second plane safely reached its destination, but tragically, only ten miles east of the airport, the first plane crashed, claiming the lives of Reba’s trusted tour manager and seven beloved band members.
Late at night, Narvel returned to the hotel room where Reba anxiously awaited news. With a heavy heart, he delivered the devastating update, revealing that the plane had crashed. Reba, hopeful for good news about their friends, asked about their well-being, only to have her hopes shattered by Narvel’s grim response, “I don’t think so.”
Desperate for answers, Narvel tirelessly sought information, pacing between rooms with a phone in hand. Reba, haunted by sorrow, shared, “It’s been 20 years, but the sorrow never really goes away.” She vividly recalled the agonizing moments when Narvel broke the news.
In the aftermath, Reba found solace in the unwavering support of close friends like Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. Despite their kind offers to help finish the tour, Reba declined, choosing instead to embark on a personal journey of recovery. Pouring her heart and soul into her next album, “For My Broken Heart,” she created a heartfelt tribute to the lost bandmates.
Remarkably, “For My Broken Heart” achieved immense success, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and selling four million copies. Reba McEntire faithfully honors the memory of those lost every year on the anniversary of the tragedy, using social media to ensure their legacy endures.
In 2014, she crafted a touching memorial on Instagram, and in 2016, on the 25th anniversary, Reba embarked on a poignant pilgrimage to San Diego, a city forever etched in her heart. Documenting the journey on social media, she shared her reflections, expressing, “People who have passed on know how much we miss them.”
Reba’s heartfelt note continued, offering condolences and prayers for all families and friends affected by the tragedy. In the face of profound loss, Reba McEntire’s resilience and artistry stand as a testament to the enduring power of music and the human spirit.