December 23

Dazzling Barbara Mandrell at 71 Will Lit Your Christmas Eve!

Early Life

On Christmas day of 1948, Barbara Mandrell was born in Houston Texas. Barbara was groomed in a very religious Christian family. She showed tons of musical potential at a very young age. When she was 9 years old she became proficient in playing the accordion and steel-pedal guitar.

Barbara had her father as her musical mentor and biggest fan. She described her father to be never demanding that all her father did was to show love and encouragement to her. Later on, her father became her manager and helped her get her first job.

In 1960, Joe Maphis was able to discover Barbara when she was eleven. With her excellence in playing the guitar, Johnny Cash sent an invitation for Barbara to tour with him. At the age of 12, she met other musical greats such as Patsy Cline.

Coming back from the tour, Irby formed the Mandrell Family Band. The band featured Barbara on Pedal Steel and Saxophone. Also included were her two sisters, Irlene and Louise who sang backup.  Irby did guitar and lead vocals while Mother Ellen directed the band.

Shortly, Barbara fell in love with Ken Dudney. It created some controversies that led to the decision of her parents to separate them. Barbara and Dudney were not able to see each other until the time that Dudney had finished his service in Vietnam.


Solo Career

With the love of her life having his service oversees, Barbara put in all her effort into the band. She was 18 years old when she released her first single “Queen for A Day.” The following year, Barbara married Dudney. She eventually stopped in music for a while to be a housewife.

In 1969, Barbara made her comeback to music. She was singing with Columbia Records and charted for the first time with her single. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.“ In 1970, the song “Playin’ Around with Love” was released and gave birth to her first child, Kenneth Matthew.

Daddy’s Influence

Throughout the success of her career, Mandrell had a person that stuck to her all the time. Her Dad, Irby Mandrell stood as her manager, friend, and mentor. People would denote Irby as a stage father, which Barbara would deny. Irby was known as the long-time manager of his three daughters.

Irby started his musical journey in Fairfield Illinois. There he played for the church and fell in love with the niece of his pastor. Irby was a dad that trained her daughters on how to succeed. He was the main reason why his daughters had a good run in their own musical career. Due to the success of his three daughters, Irby’s career as a manager also bloomed.

Sleeping Single in A Double Bed

Mandrell had experienced several minor successes in her musical career since her very young age. It was in 1978 though that she scored her first number 1 hit with “Sleeping Single in Double Bed.” This song was written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan and included in her first album, “Moods.”  This gave Barbara a breakthrough as this was the first of the six number one singles she produced. It lasted for three weeks on top of the charts and eleven weeks among the top 40 charts. In 1980, the song won as AMA’s Favorite Country Single.

Barbara made twenty-six singles in her career.

Further Success

Colombia stood as the home for Barbara until 1975. She then joined ABC/DOT with producer Tom Collins. Barbara started to do collaborations with country artist David Houston. This was the time when her career started to take a new bump up. Barbara gained her true hit when she released the album “The Midnight Oil” in 1973.

Throughout the 1980s, Mandrell remained a well-known artist. She continued to produce continuous hits. At this time “I was Country” (When Country Wasn’t Cool) was released. She also ventured into launching her television program with the title “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrel Sisters.” The show featured musical performances and comedy sketches.

Soon, Barabara started to rack up awards. She is the winner of seven American Music Awards and nine Country Music Awards.

Raised in a traditional strict Christian family, Barbara also released a religious-themed album entitled “He Set My Life To Music.” The album reflected the devotion she had for God. When asked, Mandrell mainly claimed that every single talent that he had was deeply orchestrated by God. This gained Mandrell another Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Inspirational Performance.

Almost the End

Just a year after the release of the album, Mandrell’s faith would be tested by a near-death experience. It happened on a serious head-on car collision while driving in the freeway. Barbara just barely survived the accident. The singer suffered multiple fractures, lacerations, and memory loss. Fortunately, her two children that were riding with her have their seatbelt buckled that saved their life.

The accident caused a drastic change in Barbara’s life. This led her to re-assess her priorities. Barbara started to prioritize her health, her husband and her children over her music. Barbara took a break from the industry to recover from the accident. The process of her recovery wasn’t easy as it brought mood swings and became more volatile. She also suffered several temper outburst that was a result of the traumatic stress she gained from the accident.

Mandrell retired from the country music industry in 1997. Since then, she focused on taking care of her family, her ranch, children, garden, and pets.

Country Music Hall of Fame

In 2009,  Barbara Mandrell was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her father, Irby, was present during the announcement of the inductees. Upon receiving the recognition, Barbara was in full of praise for her father. She said that it was through her father’s help that she was able to hone the God-given talent she was blessed with. A few months later Irby died.

Even to this day, Barbara Mandrell’s colleagues praised her great contribution to the industry.


barbara mandrell

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