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Super Bowl national anthem singer's tragedy after band died in plane crash

Super Bowl national anthem singer's tragedy after band died in plane crash

A total tragedy that changed her forever

Reba McEntire wowed crowds as she sang the USA national anthem ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.

But her story is one marred and inspired by tragedy.

The US national anthem and NFL has a strong history, with 'The Star Spangled Banner' performed before American football games throughout the NFL season.

With tens of millions of more eyes on the Super Bowl, the topic of who sings the anthem before the big game is often hotly discussed.

It has always attracted big names, including Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Pink, and Beyonce.

Super Bowl 58 saw iconic American country singer Reba MeEntire take to the microphone. She was also accompanied by deaf actor Daniel Durant, who signed it in American Sign Language for those of hard or no hearing.

The performance was classy and iconic, and the perfect intro to a sporting occasion that personifies the American subculture.

It was the latest in her incredible career which unfortunately coincides with one of the saddest events of her life.

In was in the early hours of 16 March, 1991, that she was given the awful news that eight of her bandmates had died in a plane crash.

Reba McEntire in 1991.
Barry King/WireImage

For the 1991 tour of the United States, two planes had been chartered for the band to get from tour date to tour date.

McEntire herself instead travelled separately in another plane with her then-husband, Narvel Blackstock, and stylist Sandi Spika.

In the early hours of 16 March, she was awoken by a phone call - it was Roger Woolsey, their private pilot.

McEntire and her husband were told that one of the two planes had crashed, with one of the wings hitting the side of a mountain in San Diego.

Everyone on board the plane was instantly killed, with the crash described by those at the scene as a 'huge ball of fire' that could be seen by those driving nearby.

That included eight of her band members - Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Anthony Saputo, and Michael Thomas.

McEntire is also a coach on The Voice.
Trae Patton/NBC via Getty Images

The pilot Donald Holmes and his co-pilot Chris Hollinger also died in the incident. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of the accident was related to 'improper pilot planning' with the co-pilot trying to fly through an area they weren't familiar with, as well as the 'pilot's failure to maintain proper altitude and clearance over mountainous terrain'.

"I don't guess it ever quits hurting," McEntire said to Oprah Winfrey in 2012; some 21 years after the awful night.

Just seven months after the fatal crash, she released her 16th album, For My Broken Heart.

It was dedicated to those who died and contained songs about 'all measure of suffering', the press at the time said.

Reba McEntire re-visiting the site of the crash.

Three years later, McEntire won her second Grammy and come the year 2000, she had firmly moved from 'Queen of Country' to a modern day celebrity through the release of a sitcom, Reba.

A quarter of a century after the crash in 2016, McEntire returned to the crash site.

She posted: "I feel in my heart that they know we still miss them so much. My love and prayers to all the families and friends."

Featured Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC via Getty Images/Barry King/WireImage

Topics: Super Bowl, Sport, Music, Celebrity, Travel, US News