December 26

Happy Birthday, Barbara Mandrell!

69 years ago, a lovely country singer, musician, and actress in the form of Barbara Mandrell was born. From 1979 to 1981, she was named Entertainer of the Year for three consecutive years by the Country Music Association. In 1977, her song Sleeping Single In A Double Bed earned the 1977 US Number 1 Country single. She gained several other prestigious awards like Top Female Vocalist, Female Artist of the Year, Comedian of the Year, Favorite All-Around Female Performer, and Favorite Female Personality, to name a few. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

There are still many awe-inspiring details to reminisce about an American country singer as gifted and brilliant as Barbara Mandrell. She was born in Houston Texas, to a family headed by a homemaker-musician mother and a World War II naval veteran father. At a young age, Barbara was already able to read music and play the accordion. About six years after she developed such skill, she had already mastered playing another instrument, the steel guitar.

Her father took pride in her jaw-dropping talent that he once took her to a music trade convention based in Chicago. From there, Barbara was approached by Chet Atkins, a famous musician, bandleader, and producer of RCA Records. She then became an instant star, having booked feature performances in Maphis’ Las Vegas nightclub show, tours with country music giants like Tex Ritter, Red Foley, and Johnny Cash, as well as a 1961 TV debut in NBC-TV’s Five Star Jubilee.

As Barbara Mandrell continued her rise to fame, she was soon dubbed as ‘The Sweetheart of Steel.’ Aside from the accordion and the steel guitar, additional instruments she learned to play include the banjo, saxophone, pedal steel, and even lap steel guitars.

Her debut into the country music scene kick-started after she made an appearance in a nightclub situated near the Grand Ole Opry. Six record companies immediately offered her recording contracts, until she ultimately signed with Columbia in 1969. Her very first hit song that invaded the charts was a rendition of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, a classic tune from Otis Redding. She then continued to release several other chart-topping songs such as Playin’ Around With Love, The Midnight Oil, Treat Him Right, Tonight, My Baby’s Comin’ Home, After Closing Time, (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right, Years, and One Of A Kind Pair Of Fools.

She also delved into the country-pop genre, where she switched to the ABC/Dot label. Aside from singing, the country music sensation brought her talents to acting, too. She did hosting stints, comedy sketches, and had starring and guest star roles in TV programs like Burning Rage, Barbara Mandrell, and the Mandrell Sisters, Empty Nest, Diagnosis: Murder, Touched By An Angel, Medicine Woman, Dr. Quinn and Baywatch.

 In 1984, Mandrell was involved in a car crash that led her to sustain several fractures in her right leg, abrasions, lacerations, a broken bone, ankle, knee, and thigh, as well as a serious concussion that caused temporary loss of her memory. Barbara Mandrell had to be rehabilitated for about a year and a half. Following her recovery, she returned to the spotlight and continued performing and recording songs. The experience became a huge eye-opener for the singer-musician-actress, significantly making her re-evaluate her priorities in life.

Having lived so many colorful years in the world of music, and after learning so many life lessons, Barbara now lives her life happily and peacefully with her family and close friends. She has also finally overcome her fear of driving, something she acquired following her near-death accident.


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