REBA MCENTIRE’S SEPARATION SURPRISED FANS AND INDUSTRY INSIDERS

In a community where celebrity divorce rumors tend to run rampant, news of Reba McEntire and husband Narvel Blackstock’s separation came as a huge surprise to fans and the Nashville music industry.

The couple announced Monday (Aug. 3) that they’ve separated after a 26-year marriage. McEntire confirmed the news on her official website.

“In a joint statement, Narvel Blackstock and Reba McEntire have announced that they have been separated for the past few months after 26 years of marriage,” she posted on her official website. “Despite this being the end of their marriage, they continue to support each other. They have worked together for 35 years and will continue to do so. They have asked that you respect their privacy during this time.”

The pair founded Starstruck Entertainment together in 1988 and married a year later. Blackstock has served as the legendary singer’s manager for more than three decades.

In a 2003 interview, McEntire opened up about their relationship, telling CMT there was never a dull moment together.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s exciting. There’s never a boring moment ever. Whether we’re arguing, fighting about something, or intimate moments, it’s always never boring. Never.

“Narvel makes me laugh. He’s always entertaining me. He’s a great team player. He’s a very considerate man. He’s more giving than I am. On things that he’d say, ‘We ought to do this,’ I’d say, ‘God, don’t you have any idea how much that’s going to cost?’”

McEntire said she’s learned lot from Blackstock and his family.

“I think the sparks started flying when the respect level for him — from me — started growing,” she said. “Because I can’t love somebody and live with them if I don’t respect them. And the respect level was there, I think, before I fell in love with him.”

In 1990, the couple welcomed a son, Shelby, who followed a different career path from his parents entering the world of race car driving. Since their early days, McEntire and Blackstock climbed to the height of success together with her hit albums and numerous industry awards. Most recently, McEntire teamed up with pals Brooks & Dunn for a highly anticipated residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

-- CMT.com staff