Nashville Insiders Shocked By Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock's Separation

08/10/2015 AT 04:00 PM EDT



The news of Reba McEntire's split from husband of 26 years, manager Narvel Blackstock, left fans and Nashville insiders alike in total shock.

"It blows my mind," a longtime friend tells PEOPLE. "I never thought this could happen to them."

It was a sentiment expressed by many in the industry.



Adds a former label exec who has worked with McEntire throughout her career, "They were a great team, both as a couple and as business partners. They collaborated on every decision. I'm shocked and saddened."

In a joint statement released on Aug. 3, a rep for McEntire, 60, said the couple had been separated "the past few months" and would continue to work together. (Blackstock, 58, is McEntire's manager, and they co-own Starstruck Entertainment.)



In March the Grammy winner spoke lovingly of her husband, telling PEOPLE that the two "never leave each other without a kiss and 'I love you.'"

The Nashville duo are parents to son, race car driver Shelby, 25, and Blackstock has three children from a previous marriage, including son Brandon, who is married to Kelly Clarkson.

For more on the shocking split, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

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