Barbara Ann Mandrell (born December 25, 1948) is an American country music singer[1] best known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows, that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of that period.[1] She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

She was the first performer to win the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" award twice. She was the only female to do so until Taylor Swift equaled her.[2] She also won twice the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" in 1979 and 1981.

Mandrell's first Billboard No. 1 hit was 1978's "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed", immediately followed by "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" in early 1979.[1] In 1980, "Years" also reached No. 1. She added one more chart topper in each of the next three years. "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" (her signature song),[3] then "'Till You're Gone" and "One of a Kind, Pair of Fools"—all hit number one between 1981 and 1983, a period during which Mandrell also received numerous industry awards and accolades.[1][3]

Early life


Born the oldest daughter into a musical family in Houston, Texas on December 25, 1948, Barbara Mandrell was already reading music and playing accordion at age five.[1] Six years later, she's become so adept at playing steel guitar that her father took her to a music trade convention in Chicago, where her talents caught the attention of Chet Atkins and Joe Maphis. Soon after, she became a featured performer in Maphis' Las Vegas nightclub show, followed by tours with Red Foley, Tex Ritter, and Johnny Cash.[1] Her network TV debut came on the NBC-TV series Five Star Jubilee in 1961.

While growing up, Mandrell learned to play the pedal steel and lap steel guitars and many other instruments, including the accordion, saxophone and banjo. She played steel guitar for the legendary Patsy Cline, who once wrote to a friend that Mandrell was, "a 13-year-old blonde doll, that plays the steel guitar out of this world! What a show woman!" Mandrell toured at age 13 with Cline, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. She also played guitar for Joe Maphis in Las Vegas[1] and on the Town Hall Party show in Los Angeles. A couple of years later, Mandrell and her sisters Louise and Irlene, as well as her parents, founded the Mandrell Family Band.[1] They toured across the United States and Asia. Their drummer, Ken Dudney, became Mandrell's husband shortly after graduating from Oceanside High School.[1]

Career discovery

Dudney later enlisted in the Navy, serving as a pilot, and was sent overseas. Mandrell decided, that she would become a country singer and moved to Nashville. Her father was then her manager and with his help, she signed with Columbia Records in 1969. Over the next couple of years, Mandrell had a few minor hits. Her producer at the time was Billy Sherrill, known for producing other well-known singers in country music such as Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich and Tanya Tucker.

Country music career

1969–1974: Country beginnings

Within 48 hours of a nightclub appearance near the Grand Ole Opry, she received offers for recording contracts from six record companies. After signing with Columbia in 1969, she notched her first chart hit, a remake of the Otis Redding classic "I've Been Loving You Too Long". In 1970, Mandrell scored the first of many Top 40 hits with "Playin' Around With Love". In the same year, she began performing with singer David Houston, and their partnership also generated considerable chart success.[4] Mandrell's first releases earned respect from her country peers, but her first big breakthrough with fans came in 1973 with the single "The Midnight Oil".

While with Columbia Records, Mandrell worked with legendary country producer Billy Sherrill, who also produced Charlie Rich and Tammy Wynette. Under Sherrill's direction, Mandrell recorded country-soul material, which never gained her widespread success. Her early hits included 1971's "Tonight My Baby's Comin' Home" and 1970s "After Closing Time" (a duet with David Houston). Her records barely sold on the Columbia label. Sherrill later said in the book, How Nashville Became Music City, that he was continually asked every year by the other Columbia executives, why he was keeping Mandrell, because she wasn't selling records. Sherrill kept Mandrell with the label until 1975.

1975–1984: Country-pop

In 1975, Mandrell jumped to the ABC/Dot label, and under the guidance of producer Tom Collins reached the Top Five for the first time with the single "Standing Room Only". After a series of successive hits, she scored her first No. 1 with 1978's "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed", immediately followed by another chart-topper, "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" in early 1979.[5] "If Loving You Is Wrong" was also a major crossover smash, becoming Mandrell's only single to reach the Top 40 on the pop chart, peaking at No. 31. The song also peaked in the Top 10 on Adult Contemporary radio stations.

During the 1980s Mandrell had more hits, including "Crackers" and "Wish You Were Here". All of these singles and more reached the country Top 10 and some also hit No. 1, including "Years". Three more singles hit No. 1—"I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool", "'Till You're Gone", and "One of a Kind, Pair of Fools"—between 1981 and 1983, a period during which Mandrell also received many industry awards and accolades.[6] "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" is one of Mandrell's best-known songs. The best-known version is the live version featuring George Jones. In 1983, she won a Grammy award for "Best Inspirational Performance" for the song, "He Set My Life to Music".

In 1980 Mandrell became the third woman to win the "Entertainer of the Year" award from the Country Music Association. She repeated history in 1981 by winning the award for the second time. This was unprecedented, as in prior to her, it was presumed, that it only went to an artist once—but she nabbed it a second year in a row with her non-stop touring, hit records, and popular TV show. This began the huge array of awards and she would win: several CMA, ACM, and MCN awards, seven American Music Awards, and nine People's Choice, making her one of the most awarded country acts in history.


A collection of duets with Lee Greenwood, Meant for Each Other, followed in 1984.[7] From the duet album, Greenwood and Mandrell had a series of hits on the country chart between 1984 and 1985, including the Top 5 hit, "To Me", and the Top 20 "It Should Have Been Love By Now".

Also in 1984, she opened a fan-based attraction across from the Country Music Hall of Fame in the heart of Music Row in Nashville called Barbara Mandrell Country.

1984: Motor vehicle accident

While Mandrell was at the peak of her popularity, she had a major setback, when she was involved in a serious automobile accident on September 11, 1984. According to Toni Reinhold in Redbook magazine, the singer "sustained multiple fractures in her right leg, including a broken thigh bone, knee and ankle. She also suffered lacerations and abrasions and a severe concussion, that caused temporary memory loss, confusion and speech difficulties." After a year-and-a-half of rehabilitation she recovered and returned to recording and performing. Mandrell told interviewers, that the accident made her reassess her priorities; thus she retired in November 1997 and now spends more time with her family. She no longer performs or makes public appearances.[8] Mandrell is now a confirmed seat belt advocate, especially because prior to the accident, neither she nor her two children Matthew and Jaimie (also involved in the accident) were normally seat belt wearers. Mandrell saw a truck in front of her with children not being restrained in the back and felt the need to tell her children to buckle up just before the crash.[9]

During the recuperation period, Mandrell was unable to work and therefore needed to collect on her insurance to pay for medical bills and to keep her band paid. Mandrell was informed, that under Tennessee law, she had to sue the estate of the other driver (Mark White, 19, of Lebanon, Tennessee, who died in the accident) in order to collect.[10] It went misunderstood for years, until she was allowed to clarify it in 1990 on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[citation needed]

1985–1989: Return to music

Mandrell returned in 1985, and continued to have hits among the Top 10 on the country chart, including "There's No Love in Tennessee", "Angel in Your Arms", and "Fast Lanes and Country Roads". In 1986, she teamed up with the Oak Ridge Boys for a duet "When You Get to the Heart", which reached the Top 20. Later that year, she released the album Moments, spawning the noticeably more traditional-sounding Country No. 6 single "No One Mends a Broken Heart Like You".

Beginning in 1986, the country music landscape had changed dramatically, with the "new traditionalist" movement gaining dominance with artists like George Strait, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis and Patty Loveless, while the glitzier, more pop-influenced music Mandrell released began falling out of favor.[5] Her popularity began to fade by the end of the decade. At the end of 1986, she ended her long association with MCA Records and signed with EMI America Records. In the summer of 1987, she released her debut album with this label, Sure Feels Good, which had a No. 13 hit with the lead-off single "Child Support". The two subsequent singles, the title track and "Angels Love Bad Men (which featured the song's writer, Waylon Jennings, on the closing chorus), failed to crack the Top 40 Country Singles Chart, peaking at No. 48 and No. 49 respectively.

Mandrell had her last charting country Top 40 singles from the album, I'll Be Your Jukebox Tonight, "I Wish that I Could Fall in Love Today" (No. 5) in the autumn of 1988, and "My Train of Thought" (No. 19) in the spring of 1989.

1990–present: Current music career

As the 1990s began, she began focusing almost exclusively on live performing, where she remained a significant draw.[11] In 1990, she released the album Morning Sun (album), which featured a duet performance of "Crazy Arms" with Ray Price and a remake of Price's "You Wouldn't Know Love if It Looked You in the Eye".[citation needed] By contrast, on the same album, she covered a then-recent R&B hit for newcomer Karyn White, "I'm Not Your Superwoman". Although she did not achieve her earlier chart success, Mandrell continued to release albums and singles until 1992. In 1997, she released her last studio album to date, It Works for Me after a five-year hiatus. Also that year she shocked fans by stating she was leaving her country music career and moving more into acting. She held her last concert at the Grand Ole Opry in October 1997, and it was televised on TNN to huge ratings. The title of the show was "The Last Dance." She remains a member of the Opry.[12][13]

In October 1999 she was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame with other artists, Andy Griffith, Loretta Lynn, Gary S. Paxton, David L Cook, Lulu Roman and Jimmie Snow.[14]

On October 17, 2006 Mandrell was honored with the release of a new tribute album titled She Was Country when Country Wasn't Cool: A Tribute to Barbara Mandrell on BNA Records. The album debuted on Billboard's Country Albums chart at No. 25, her first album to chart since 1991's Key's in the Mailbox. The album featured country artists (Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Blaine Larsen, Terri Clark, Gretchen Wilson, Randy Owen, Lorrie Morgan, Shelby Lynne & Willie Nelson). GAC (Great American Country channel) had several specials throughout October to promote the album. Mandrell also hosted the Grand Ole Opry live on October 28, where several of the artists on the album sang many of her classics.

On November 6, 2006, Mandrell made an appearance on the 40th Annual CMA Awards. She presented the same award she won two consecutive years, "Entertainer of the Year", to Kenny Chesney to close the show.

Time-Life recently released a DVD collection called The Best of Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters on May 1, 2007, which features more than 40 guest musical performances including country superstars Johnny Cash, Alabama, Marty Robbins, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, The Statler Brothers, Ray Charles, John Schneider, Glen Campbell and many more, as well as comedy legend Bob Hope ... appearances by Phyllis Diller and Andy Kaufman were omitted from this DVD set. Many fans of the original series have expressed disappointment over the fact, that the DVD release is heavily edited and omits most of the opening numbers and family oriented sketch comedy, which rounded out the series.[citation needed]

On November 5, 2007, Mandrell, along with Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell, was awarded a star on Nashville's Walk of Fame. On May 17, 2009, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with Roy Clark and Charlie McCoy.[15]

File:MandrellDo Rites86.jpg

Many members of her band the "Do Rites" such as, Ric Boyer, Charlie Bundy, Kirk Capello, Mike 'Cookie' Jones, Randy Wright, Gene Miller, David Salyer, Dan Schafer,[16] Dino Pastin, Micheal Rojas & Sid Hudson enjoyed success in Nashville, as recording session singers, musicians & arrangers.

Acting career

In 1980, the TV program Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters premiered on NBC. In addition to hosts Barbara, Louise, and Irlene Mandrell, the show featured musical guests and comedy sketches. Each broadcast also closed with a gospel song, and in 1982 Mandrell released her own inspirational album, He Set My Life to Music. As a result of her busy schedule, she began suffering from vocal strain, and on doctor's orders pulled the plug on the television program in 1982. In 1983, she premiered The Lady Is a Champ, a Las Vegas stage show.[17]

Mandrell had the starring role in Burning Rage alongside Tom Wopat in 1984 just prior to her car accident. Later, she also had guest star roles on hit shows, including: Empty Nest; Diagnosis: Murder; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; The Commish; Baywatch; Walker, Texas Ranger; and Rockford Files. She even had a recurring featured role in the late 1990s on Aaron Spelling's daytime drama, Sunset Beach.

Many of these performances can be seen on late-night television or on the DVD box sets of the respective shows. In 1990, she wrote an autobiography called Get to the Heart: My Story, which was a New York Times Bestseller for more than three months, and in 1997 became a highly rated CBS TV Movie of the Week starring Maureen McCormick (Marcia on "The Brady Bunch"). Mandrell promoted her autobiography on shows such as Sally Jessy Raphaël show, Geraldo, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, with whom she shared the "Woman of the World" honor in 1992. In primetime, she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Ralph Emery's Nashville Now, and she even "rapped" during one of her three Arsenio visits.

Personal life

Barbara Mandrell married Ken Dudney on May 28, 1967. Dudney had been the drummer in the Mandrell Family Band. Mandrell and Dudney have three children, Kenneth Matthew Dudney (b. 1970), Jaime Nicole Dudney (b. 1976), and Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney (b. 1985).

Mandrell's daughter, Jaime Dudney, was Miss Tennessee Teen USA 1993 and placed in the semi-finals at Miss Teen USA 1993. Jaime was Miss Golden Globe in 1996, following a tradition, where one son and one daughter of famous parents present the Golden statues. Following this, Jaime played her aunt, Irlene Mandrell, in Get to the Heart (The Barbara Mandrell Story), and was seen on the long-running CBS daytime drama, As the World Turns, from June 1998–January 2000. Mandrell's oldest son Kenneth "Matthew" Dudney is a gourmet chef, who has worked in the Nashville area for many years. After several bouts with alcoholism, Matthew overcame the problem and married Christian recording artist Christy Sutherland. He now travels with her as her personal manager.[18] Mandrell's youngest son, Nathan Dudney, graduated from The University of Mississippi and shortly thereafter married his wife Hannah.[19]


Year Award Category
2009 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Inductee
2008 People Magazine Ranked in "100 Most Beautiful at any age" list
2007 People Magazine Ranked in "100 Most Beautiful" list
2005 Academy of Country Music Triple Crown Award
2002 CMT's "40 Greatest Women of Country Music" Rank - No. 38
2001 Academy of Country Music Awards Pioneer Award
1999 Country-Gospel Music Hall of Fame Elected to the Country-Gospel Hall of Fame
1992 Woman of the World Woman of the World Award (tied w/ Oprah Winfrey)
1991 TNN/Music City News Awards Minnie Pearl Award
1987 People's Choice Award All-Around Female Performer
1987 American Music Awards Favorite Female Country Artist
1986 People's Choice Awards All-Around Female Performer
1985 People's Choice Awards Favorite All-Around Female Performer
1985 People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Musical Performer
1985 American Music Awards Favorite Female Country Artist
1985 Music City News Country Living Legend Award
1984 People's Choice Awards Favorite All-Around Female Musical Performer
1984 American Music Awards Favorite Female Country Artist
1984 Grammy Awards Best Soul Gospel Duo Performance - "I'm So Glad We're Standing Here Today" (w/ Bobby Jones)
1983 People's Choice Awards Favorite All-Around Female Performer
1983 American Music Awards Favorite Female Country Artist
1983 Grammy Awards Best Inspirational Performance - "He Set My Life to Music"
1982 People's Choice Awards Favorite All-Around Female Performer
1982 People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Personality
1982 People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Musical Performer
1982 Music City News Country Female Artist of the Year
1982 Music City News Country Instrumentalist of the Year
1981 Academy of Country Music Awards Top Female Vocalist
1981 Country Music Association Awards Entertainer of the Year
1981 Country Music Association Awards Female Vocalist of the Year
1981 American Music Awards Favorite Female Country Artist
1981 Music City News Country Comedian of the Year
1981 Music City News Country Female Artist of the Year
1981 Music City News Country Instrumentalist of the Year
1981 People Magazine 25 Most Intriguing List
1980 Academy of Country Music Awards Entertainer of the Year
1980 Country Music Association Awards Entertainer of the Year
1980 American Music Awards Favorite Country Single - "Sleeping Single In a Double Bed"
1979 Music City News Country Female Artist of the Year
1979 Country Music Association Awards Female Vocalist of the Year
1978 Academy of Country Music Awards Top Female Vocalist
1976 Music City News Country Most Promising Female Artist of the Year
1971 Academy of Country Music Awards Top New Female Vocalist



  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 " : Barbara Mandrell : Biography" (bio page), Country Music Television, Inc., 2008, webpage: CMT-BMandrell.
  2. Past Winners. Country Music Association (2011). Retrieved on July 5, 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 " News : 20 Questions With Barbara Mandrell" (interview), Country Music Television, Inc., October 2006, webpage: CMT-BMandrell-20Q: interview, quoted "That is my signature song [' I Was Country..']... The next thing I knew, they had written for me ' I Was Country when Country Wasn't Cool'. It's literally the story of my life..."
  4. The Barbara Mandrell biography at Allmusic; (retrieved February 15, 2008)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Barbara Mandrell biography at Allmusic
  6. Barbara Mandrell biography at Allmusic
  7. Barbara mandrell biography at Allmusic
  8. [1] Mandrell retires from music industry Nov 1997
  9. [2] Mandrell tells of her 1984 accident
  10. [3] Mandrell's accident
  11. allmusic ((( Barbara Mandrell > Biography )))
  12. Barbara Mandrell. Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved on July 5, 2012.
  13. Opry Member List PDF (April 23, 2012). Retrieved on July 5, 2012.
  14. Platinum Heart Awards. Country Gospel Music Association. Retrieved on 2009-12-06.Mandrell inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame
  15. Barbara Inducted Into the Country Music Hall of Fame
  16. Dan Schafer Artist performances. Retrieved on 2012-02-05.
  17. Barbara Mandrell at Cmt
  18. Christy Sutherland. Christy Sutherland. Retrieved on 2009-12-06.Matthew Dudney as Christy Sutherland's Manager
  19. Nashville-Based Destination Wedding Photographer ~ Meishach Moore Photographers Time Lapse of Wedding Rehearsal Dinner at Rocketown ~ Nashville, TN ». Retrieved on 2009-12-06.Nathan and Hannah's Wedding

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