Country Throwback: Reba McEntire’s ‘For My Broken Heart’ Stands at No. 1 on Charts 29 Years Ago Today

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by Ron Galella/ Getty Images)

There’s so much more to Reba than her fiery red hair. Even just reading the first sentence, you know her name even without thinking about it. The iconic country legend, Reba McEntire, can be identified with just one word: Reba. 

In 1976 McEntire first made a name for herself when she debuted on the charts. However, she had to work tirelessly at her craft before she would land a No. 1 spot on Billboard’s country music chart. In 1982, her perseverance would pay off when she snagged her first No. 1 hit with “I’m Not That Lonely Yet” and “Can’t Even Get the Blues.”

The success hasn’t slowed down since. For four consecutive years, starting in 1985, McEntire would take home CMA’s award for female vocalist. In 1986, she also won the CMA entertainer of the year. 

The Heartbreaking Past of Reba McEntire’s Career

The singer had every reason to celebrate, but that would soon come to an earth-shattering halt in 1991. That spring, following a concert, eight of McEntire’s band members died in a plane crash. Heartbroken, she processed her grief by doing what she does best: singing. That fall, her sorrow would manifest itself in her album, For My Broken Heart. Co-produced by Reba and Tony Brown, the album can be described as one of the saddest yet best bodies of work in country music history. 

“I ached singing every song,” she told a reporter. “I remember the musicians praying for an upbeat, happy song every time we said, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do this one next.'”

According to the album’s notes, McEntire describes For My Broken Heart as “a form of healing for all our broken hearts.” The music throughout the album is a testament to that. 

The album leads with its title track then followed by “Is There Life Out There.” The song, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, originally sung in 1972 by Vicki Lawrence, was the third single for the album. 

At the time, For My Broken Heart became the spunky red head’s highest-charting album on the “Billboard 200” chart, peaking at number 13. 

It’s sold over 4 million copies as of today, making it one of her most successful albums. 

Listen to the album below.