Reba McEntire Interrupts Her Own Concert To Hold Graduation Ceremony Onstage For Longtime Drummer

Instead of attending his graduation ceremony, Garth Justice was dutifully behind his drum kit in Reba’s band on tour.

Fans at a recent Reba McEntire concert may have been a little confused when the band broke into the song “Pomp and Circumstance”, which is best known as a graduation song, not one of McEntire’s many hits. It was a completely appropriate choice, though, because the concert was a graduation ceremony of sorts.

Reba McEntire in Blue Suit

Jason Kempin / Staff/Getty Images

Turns out that when McEntire’s longtime drummer Garth Justice wasn’t behind a drum set, he was working his way through Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, Wide Open Country reported. He finished all the school work for his degree, but his graduation date landed on the same day as a tour date with McEntire. When faced with the tough choice, Justice decided to live up to his professional obligation and skipped his college graduation. 

When McEntire and Justice's bandmates found out about his decision, they decided to make up for it as best they could. So in the middle of her concert in Estero, Florida, they threw Justice an impromptu commencement ceremony on stage.

At the end of one song, the “Fancy” singer addressed her audience by saying, “we’re going to interrupt our regularly scheduled program right now.” In the background you could see a little commotion happening with the band while McEntire explained that this show was originally scheduled for a month earlier but they were there tonight. “And also tonight in Cleveland, Tennessee, they are having a graduation ceremony at Lee University. Where my drummer, Garth Justice was supposed to be there tonight,” she said while gesturing to him to come join her. Another member of the band and Justice’s son quickly dressed him in a cap and gown and he joined McEntire at center stage as the band started playing the traditional graduation anthem.

McEntire told the audience that because he couldn’t go to his graduation, “Trey his son, and we brought the graduation to you.” Then, seemingly getting a little choked up, she said “May I present to you, Class of 2022, Garth Justice,” as she handed him his diploma. 

McEntire capped things off with a rendition of "Is There Life Out There," which she explained was a favorite of nontraditional students. 

"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,” McEntire said, per Wide Open Country. “So tonight we're going to do this song for you, Garth. We applaud you."

The celebration continued after the show and Justice posted some of the photos on social media. "I'm still speechless over this moment on Saturday night," Justice shared on Facebook. "They all made a memory for me that I'll never forget."

Congratulations Garth!

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