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Top country music star who was in the music business for almost 40 years (retired in 1997)
Throughout her career won over 75 major awards including Country Music Assoc. (CMA); Entertainer of the Year Award (1980, 1981); People's Choice Award, etc;
TV Shows: Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters with a weekly audience of over 40 million viewers; as well as appearances on Touched by an Angel and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Had 50 Top 40 country hits including: “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” “In Times Like These,” “Crackers,” “Years,” “This Time I Almost Made It,” “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to be Right,” etc
A Christmas Day baby, Barbara learned to read music before she could read words. She made her stage debut in church at age five playing “Gospel Boogie” on the accordion.
She learned to play the steel guitar and saxophone within two weeks of each other and over the years added bass, banjo, mandolin and Dobro. When she was just 11, legendary country guitarist Joe Maphis booked “The Princess of Steel” on one of his Las Vegas shows. Within a few weeks she began to appear with other country music stars. When Barbara was 12, she was invited to go on tour with Johnny Cash, where she performed with other big names in country music like Patsy Cline, June Carter, and George Jones.
Following the tour, Barbara's father put together the Mandrell Family Band. The formation of this band led Barbara to meet her future husband, Ken. When the Mandrell Family Band broke up, Barbara called on the sisters, Louise and Irlene to sing and play backup. This band was called the Do-Rites.
In 1966, she recorded her first single, “Queen for a Day”, and her first No. 1 hit was “Midnight Oil.” Her successful weekly variety TV series Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters drew 40 million viewers. She was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year in 1980 and 1981 – the first person and only woman to win the award twice. Later, she acted in several television shows, including Touched by an Angel and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Even a devastating 1984 car wreck that gave her a serious head injury and broke her ankle, arm and ribs kept her out of commission only temporarily. She made her triumphant return two years later. Barbara retired from performing almost 10 years ago and doesn't miss performing. She sold her all her instruments except for her steel guitar, which is in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a Dobro with an inscription from her parents.
In these days of nearly annual “farewell tours,” nothing has weakened Barbara’s resolve and lured her back for one more show. Throughout her career and her life, Barbara has asked God for guidance, and she really prayed about the decision to retire from performing. Since then, not one moment has she regretted retiring. She says she was at the top of her game and there was nothing more to do. She wanted a normal life, and God answered her. She is enjoying life with her family and friends and loves being a mom, gardening, creating mosaics, and painting. Gardening helps her truly see the hand of God in everything.
Her parents are still alive. Her father had three open heart surgeries but is now doing well. Her father-in-law even celebrated his 98th birthday.
Just as there are no two snowflakes alike, each of us has a unique relationship with God. She has had a very blessed life. Though she's had some trials in her life, like the 1984 car accident, she's seen God be faithful through it all.
A SIMPLE FAITH
Barbara calls her faith in God "a simple faith." She was brought up in the church as a young girl and was saved at 10 in her Lutheran church. Barbara says God has given her the most marvelous life. He's been teaching her the biblical passage from the Lord's Prayer - forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. We have to forgive, which means forget. Barbara says if it's hard for her to forgive someone, she envisions Jesus on the cross and what was done to Him for our sins.
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