How a Failed Reba McEntire Audition Might Have Saved Faith Hill’s Life [Watch]
Reba McEntire suffered one of the most staggering losses in country music history in 1991, when a plane crash killed seven of her band members and her tour manager. But a young, then-unknown singer named Faith Hill was spared through a random audition that did not go as planned.
McEntire was already one of the biggest names in country music in 1991, and she was one of Hill's inspirations and one of the reasons she moved to Nashville to pursue her own dreams of musical stardom. But it was slow going for Hill at first, and she bided her time by landing a side gig selling merchandise for McEntire. That led to an audition to join McEntire on the road as a backup singer, but as Hill explained in an interview with Larry King, she wasn't a great backing vocalist.
"I didn't get it because I wasn't good enough," she said in 2006. "I don't think it was because — I don't think fate had anything to do with that for me. I wasn't a great background singer and I didn't get the part."
The gig she auditioned for went to a singer named Paula Kay Evans, who was killed when the plane carrying McEntire's band crashed into the side of Otay Mountain just outside of San Diego at 1:45AM on March 16, 1991.
"The first thing I thought when that happened, obviously, is I thought about the families of those that were lost, and I thought about Reba and [McEntire's then-husband] Narvel [Blackstock]," Hill told King. "I mean, she's an amazing woman who is very, very close to everyone around her, and I knew that that was something that it was going to be a difficult thing for her to deal with for sure. But she's a classy lady and she handled it brilliantly."
The plane crash that killed McEntire's band and its aftermath were the subject of a recent episode of The Secret History of Country Music, a video series that uncovers some of country music's greatest untold stories. Every Monday, Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar reveals the hidden stories behind country music's biggest hits, moments and artists.
Carrie Underwood, Eric Church and Garth Brooks are among the artists already featured, with many more to come. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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