Reba McEntire almost retired from music after 8 band members died in 1991 tragedy

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Reba McEntire performs onstage during the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp)

Reba McEntire nearly gave up her music career after a tragic event in her life.

Over three decades after the tragic 1991 plane crash that killed McEntire’s band members, the country singer has finally spoken out about the trauma and how the event nearly drove her out of the music industry.

McEntire spoke candidly about her pain after hearing the tragic news in an interview with PEOPLE for the magazine’s latest issue, which will be released on Friday.

According to the 67-year-old country icon, she didn’t know if she could go on without them.

She said:

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to continue. 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.”

The plane crash occurred shortly after her San Diego concert, killing eight of her band and crew members, but she said she never blamed God for the untimely loss.

Instead, she began to be grateful for what she still had and told everyone how much she adored them.

The plane crash inspired her to create her best-selling album to date, “For My Broken Heart.” Eight months after the incident, she released it.

Apart from expressing her grief through the album, McEntire was also able to release her pain through the film “The Gambler Returns.” She co-starred in it with her late friend Kenny Rogers and began referring to it as the project that saved her sanity.

McEntire’s tour manager and seven band members left San Diego after the singer’s private concert on March 16, 1991.

She learned about the incident around 2:00 a.m. that day.

McEntire detailed in her biography that the long weekend began at that time with a show in Michigan. They reportedly leased two jets to facilitate their travel between states.

The planes’ departure location changed on March 15 due to the airport’s 11:00 p.m. curfew. The team had anticipated that the show would end after 10:00 p.m.

Narvel Blackstock, McEntire’s then-husband and manager, relocated the planes to a private airport with no curfew. The singer was supposed to fly with the team but chose to travel the next day because she was sick.

Unfortunately, the plane crashed moments after Roger Woolsey, the private pilot, attempted to drive back after seeing a ball of fire in his rearview mirror.