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May 27

Meet The Kids Of ‘The Sweetheart Of Steel,’ Barbara Mandrell

Barbara Mandrell’s children were born into a life of wealth and fame. They grew up in a home of over 27,000 square feet. They grew up expecting visits from famous people. Well, that’s pretty normal when your mom’s a legendary country singer.

But there’s actually more about Kenneth Matthew Dudney, Jaime Nicole Dudney, and Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney, and that’s what we are about to learn today.

Kenneth Matthew Dudney

In 1967, Barbara Mandrell married Ken Dudney, who had been the drummer in the Mandrell Family Band. Mandrell and Dudney became first-time parents when they welcomed Kenneth Matthew into the world.

Barbara’s oldest son is also a talented musician in his own right. He was exposed to an opulent celebrity lifestyle at a very early age. Money, tours and famous people were his everyday life. However, Matt slid into an unruly lifestyle a few years later.

“I dabbled a little bit in drugs, but more than anything, it was more drinking. Then later came depression. It started sometime while I was in college,” Matt said. “The more and more I fell into depression, the more I would self-medicate, using alcohol and sometimes drugs.”

Matt hit bottom when he almost burned down his aunt’s home. It was then he realized that he needed help, so he immediately checked himself into a rehabilitation center. Matt completed his treatment and got a job as a professional chef in Nashville.

Today, Matt is 16 years sober and is married to Christy Sutherland, who is also a singer-songwriter in the Christian genre. The two first met while they were in Belmont College and started dating when their paths unexpectedly crossed once again 15 years after.

And in 2006, they finally got hitched in Barbara Mandrell’s very own backyard garden. Barbara Mandrell was also the one who created the table arrangements and the bride’s bouquet by herself.

Jaime Nicole Dudney

Jaime Nicole is the only girl among Barbara Mandrell’s kids. A tragedy fell over her glittering childhood in 1984, when the car Barbara Mandrell was driving with Jaime, together with her brother, Matt, was hit head-on by another vehicle on a four-lane highway. 

Mandrell suffered a leg fracture, a concussion, and cuts, and had to undergo surgery. Matt sustained facial and internal injuries while Jaime, who was eight years old then, suffered large bruises.

Jaime pursued an acting career in Hollywood during her early years. Her own star began to ascend in 1993 when she won the Miss Tennessee Teen contest. Jaime’s victory landed her an agent, while her photo made its way to a Hollywood producer.

In the fall of 1997, Jaime appeared alongside her mother on the CBS hit drama “Diagnosis Murder.” “I’ve been watching her acting, and there have been times I’m amazed,” Barbara Mandrell told People.

Working with Jaime made Mandrell realize how seriously her daughter was taking the job. “Even when it was a 6 a.m. call, she’d be there at 5:40 a.m. And she never dropped a line. I dropped a line, Dick Van Dyke dropped one, but not Jaime.”

In 1998, Jaime starred on CBS’s “As the World Turns,” as a tough-talking beauty, Georgia Tucker. You can really tell that Jaime is another actress making a name for herself. But Jaime revealed that acting was not really her first passion. She admitted, “If I could have any occupation, it would be what Mom does.” 

“There’s got to be no better feeling than having 20,000 people singing your songs. But I’m a better actress than a singer.”

These days, she is working in a company that deals with people with addiction and helps place them into rehab facilities all over the country. She is also devoted to charity work. But before that, Jaime used to operate Barbara Mandrell’s mansion, Fontanel, which they turned into a tourist attraction; Jaime served as the Director of Hospitality.

Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney

Barbara Mandrell’s third child is her son, Nathaniel, who was born a year after her tragic car accident. When Mandrell was pregnant with him, she suffered some complications. “I did have a cesarean section with all three of mine, but with Nathan, he was the only one that I had what they call a ‘threatened miscarriage,” she said.

Mandrell explained how she had to wait until the morning to get an ultrasound: “We had to go all through the night thinking that our baby was dead. When God showed him to us, he wasn’t dead, he was sucking his thumb. He is a miracle. He is so healthy, so perfect, and God has really, really blessed us.”

Today, Nathan is married to Hanah, who is an obstetrician-gynecologist.

To country fans, she may be ‘The Sweetheart of Steel,’ but to Barbara Mandrell’s children, she’s one loving mom.


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