NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 09: Reba attends the 56th Annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on November 09, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee and screengrab from Garth Justice's onstage graduation.
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/ Shelly Stroud Justice/Facebook

Reba McEntire Holds Impromptu Graduation Ceremony Onstage for Longtime Drummer

Longtime Reba McEntire drummer Garth Justice graduated on Dec. 10, 2022 from Lee University, a Church of God-affiliated college in Cleveland, Tenn. When Justice's graduation landed on a tour date with McEntire in Estero, Fla., which was a rescheduled from the prior month due to a hurricane, he fulfilled his professional obligation. To make up for this, McEntire and the rest of Justice's bandmates held an impromptu commencement ceremony during their set.

Footage shot and posted by Justice's wife Shelly shows the tender moment, during which the band played "Pomp and Circumstance" and a tearful McEntire handed over a diploma.

"I'm still speechless over this moment on Saturday night," Justice shared on Facebook. "If you've ever wondered what type of person [McEntire] is, wonder no longer. She's the queen of country music and she's the real deal. None sweeter or more thoughtful. Marne McLyman, Tayler Bock and Melonie Murphy outdid themselves planning this whole thing. And the band and crew were all in on it as well. They all made a memory for me that I'll never forget."

Justice also posted photos of a backstage graduation party, complete with a custom cake.

McEntire capped off the special onstage occasion with a rendition of "Is There Life Out There," which is a favorite among non-traditional students.

"This next song is very appropriate for what we've just gotten through here right now," McEntire said. "I've sung this song many times. I've had people stand up in the audience and show their college or high school diploma. Because after their kids were raised and grown out of the house and finished college themselves, they went back and got their degree and fulfilled their dream, so tonight we're going to do this song for you, Garth. We applaud you."

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