Remember When Reba McEntire Found Major Success After Tragedy?
Reba McEntire's For My Broken Heart was, indeed, a salve. At the time of its release, on Oct. 1, 1991 — 31 years ago today — the singer was mourning the deaths of most of her band in a plane crash that happened just over six months prior.
The 10 songs on For My Broken Heart, McEntire shared in the album's liner notes, were chosen to serve as "a form of healing for all our broken hearts." McEntire co-wrote just one of the songs, "Bobby," the story of a man imprisoned for killing his ailing wife who reconciles with his son years later.
McEntire led For My Broken Heart with its title track, released just one day prior to the album's arrival. The song, written by Liz Hengber and Keith Palmer, rose to No. 1 on the country radio chart by early December. "Is There Life Out There," another chart-topper, followed, as did the now-classic "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" (No. 12 on the charts) and "The Greatest Man I Never Knew," a Top 5 single.
Upon its debut, For My Broken Heart debuted in the Top 5 on the country albums chart, then climbed from No. 4 to No. 3, where it stayed for seven consecutive weeks. The album stayed in the Top 10 on that chart for 20 consecutive weeks, and, with its No. 13 peak on the all-genre Billboard 200, was McEntire's highest-charting album on that chart at the time. It's been certified four-times platinum.
McEntire also notched several major awards nominations thanks to For My Broken Heart: At the 1992 CMA Awards, she was nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Music Video of the Year; at the 1992 Grammy Awards, the album earned McEntire a Best Female Country Vocal Performance nod.
The 1992 ACM Awards were a particularly special night, however. McEntire was nominated three times — for Entertainer of the Year, Top Female Vocalist and Video of the Year — and she won twice, in the Video and Female Vocalist categories. She dedicated the latter to "my eight buddies" in an emotional acceptance speech.
"I think country music has got some of the best people in it," McEntire said, offering gratitude to those who supported her in the months after the crash. "I want you to know it means the world to me."
The March 16, 1991, plane crash in San Diego, Calif., killed seven of McEntire's band members and her tour manager, as well as the plane's pilot and co-pilot, when the plane crashed into a nearby mountain shortly after takeover. A second plane carrying other members of McEntire's band and crew flew safely, while McEntire, her then-husband and -manager, Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist, Sandy Spika, were safe because they had stayed overnight in the area.
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Reba McEntire Pictures Through the Years: