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Reba McEntire remembers 1991 plane crash that killed 8 band members: ‘It showed me how precious life is’

Reba McEntire is opening up about the 1991 plane crash that killed 10 people, including eight of her band and crew members, and how she recovered from the tragedy.

McEntire spoke about the crash that changed her life forever. Her band and crew members were flying out of San Diego after a concert when their charter jet plane crashed. 

The singer was not on the plane, and instead was scheduled to leave San Diego the next morning.

The crash claimed the lives of McEntire’s tour manager Jim Hammon, keyboardist and bandleader Kirk Cappello, keyboardist Joey Cigainero, drummer Tony Saputo, guitarist Michael Thomas, guitarist Chris Austin, bassist Terry Jackson and vocalist Paula Kaye Evans as well as the two pilots Donald Holmes and Christopher Hollinger.

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The loss affected McEntire deeply, admitting that at times she was unsure whether she wanted to, or could continue to pursue her career as a performer. She was only comforted by the belief that they had gone someplace better.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue,” McEntire told People magazine. “But it showed me how precious life is, and by the grace of God and my faith, I realized that they went on to a better place.”

As a Christian woman, McEntire said she “never blamed God” for the loss of her friends, but said she does “have questions when (she) get(s) up there.” 

“From that I learned that you need to take it one day at a time and be very grateful for the things that you have,” she added. “Tell folks in your life how much you love and appreciate them.”

One of the ways McEntire was able to cope with the tragedy was by turning her grief into art, writing the album “For My Broken Heart,” in honor of those who died. The album was released around eight months after the crash and is still the highest selling album she has released in her career.

“For My Broken Heart” features hits such as “Is There Life Out There,” “The Lights Went Out In Georgia” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”

She was further able to heal by starring in a movie with her friend, the late musician Kenny Rogers, an experience she said that “saved her sanity.” While making the movie, “The Gambler Returns,” McEntire met her now boyfriend Rex Linn, although the two didn’t start dating until years later in 2020.

When they were filming the movie, McEntire was still married to her husband Narvel Blackstock. They were married for 26 years before filing for divorce in 2015. McEntire went on to start a relationship with Linn when they reconnected on the set of “Young Sheldon.”

“I shot an appearance on the TV show Young Sheldon, which he is on,” McEntire told the outlet. “He said, ‘Let’s have dinner when you get through.’ And I said, ‘OK!’ He made me laugh my butt off on our first date, which we didn’t even know was a date.”

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After a great first date, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the two were forced to pursue a long distance relationship, as they were on opposite ends of the country.

“He was in Los Angeles, and I was in Oklahoma because Mama had just died,” she explained. “We didn’t get to see each other from March to June, but we’d talk over Zoom and FaceTime four to five times each day. We created a bond and an intimacy that was getting to know each other without being physical. We fell in love after being friends.”

The two now play husband and wife on the ABC show “Big Sky,” and could not be happier together.

“He’s the love of my life,” McEntire gushed. “We’re a wonderful team.”

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