Here comes Barbara Mandrell. It's hard to effectively communicate now just how big of a star she was. Stars of an era get no bigger or better than her, and she is on my very short list of the overall most talented stars we have had. I proudly played Barbara Mandrell songs on morning shows on great stations around the country. I feel her gifts to us outside the music are as important as Dolly's or Reba's, just over a shorter period of time. My gut feeling is that they would both agree.
Her First Big Song!
Let's put these numbers right up front, because they're incredible - She has 2 Grammy's, 4 ACM's, 4 CMA's, and 7 American Music Awards. She was the first PERSON ever to win the CMA Entertainer Of The Year TWICE. She won 9 CMT Awards, and 9 People's Choice Awards. In all she has over 50 awards. She has 6 number one songs, 27 albums and a Live album. She also hosted the ACM's and the CMA's multiple times. She's in the Country Music Hall Of Fame, (I believe Dolly inducted her in 2009) The Musicians Hall Of Fame, and the Country Gospel Music Hall Of Fame.
This Was A Monster Hit Country And Pop (Great Performance)
Barbara Mandrell had a long line of hit songs from the mid 1970's through the mid 80's. She was blessed with a beautiful and exceptionally versatile voice that sounded effortless and was incredibly was easy to listen to. She was also a beyond talented musician who played the guitar, steel guitar, lap steel guitar, piano, banjo, accordion, and saxophone. And when you went to her concerts, you would see her playing all of these - very well - at some point of the show. She really helped change the stage show for everyone in Country as she was a complete entertainer. She and Dolly were among the first country women to headline really big tours. Barbara had opening acts like Randy Travis, Steve Wariner and Garth Brooks open shows for her when they were young artists.
Crackers - A Hugely Quoted Song
At a very young age (13) she was playing pedal steel in Patsy Cline's band and had drawn the attention of all of Nashville. She was one of the best pedal steel players around, and performed and toured with Johnny Cash at 12. From a very young age, Barbara's complete showmanship was obvious from her family band that toured together. All could see she was very different and could be a game changer given the right break.
Big Song - This Is Where The Saying Came From
The story of her eventual "discovery" is legendary. Word is in about an hour of a nightclub appearance in Nashville, she got offers from a bunch of different record companies. Some say it was six in one night. Quite frankly, she was something we never really had before, as she would become an incredible live performer. Even though today's concerts are far more techie, bigger and highly advanced, a Barbara Mandrell show was high energy as she was insanely talented on all of her instruments and vocals. We have not seen her equal since on that regard. A Mandrell show was way more than singing and standing at a mic, countless wardrobe changes, and walking around onstage possibly playing a guitar. It was the opposite - It was real musical talent.
This Was A Big Hit
She broke through big in 1978 with Sleepin' Single In A Double Bed, and If Lovin' You Is Wrong, and the rest is history. She then ran off a long line of big songs as she was right on time. Urban Cowboy Pop Country was coming into fashion and her sound and image was clearly that, and she took center stage. She was not simply a country singer. She was a great singer - vocalist and had mass appeal in and out of the country realm. Taking nothing away from these great and talented women, but Mandrell, long before Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Shania and even Maren Morris, was melding different genres together in search of a unique sound. She was way ahead of the game and some of her songs more recently have had slick DJ and rap remixes.
Till You're Gone - Saxophone
She had her own TV show starting in 1980 with her sisters on NBC. It was a variety show with good ratings and sent her soaring with new fans that ran for a few seasons. She also guest starred on about every network prime time drama series of the era as she was also a pretty good actor. Barbara Mandrell was a gigantic star, at the peak of her popularity on the charts on TV and in pop culture.
Great Song - Remade Nicely
On September 11, 1984 she was in a horrific car accident as a 19 year-old young man crossed the center line and hit her car head on. The young man was killed instantly, and Barbara was severely injured. Terrible leg injuries, memory loss, confusion, major speech problems, and serious lacerations. I remember it like it was yesterday. I got my daily wake up call for the morning show at WRMZ in Columbus, and my friend and Overnight Personality, Doug Daniels told me about the accident as it happened at night. It was a sad day for the entertainment world at large. She spent almost two years recovering.
She did recover but stopped recording after a year or so and only performed. Her priorities changed as did the entire direction of her life, then she retired in 1997. And even though she does not perform, she remains a member of the Grand Ol Opry since she was invited to join in 1972. She became an advocate for seat belt wearing, as she and her children in the car had put theirs on only a couple minutes before the crash. (They all survived).
Barbara Mandrell's Amazing Home She Sold in 2002 Now A Hotel
There are others with more number ones and more gold albums, there always is. But Barbara Mandrell is one of the greatest entertainers ever in Country Music. She was class and elegance in addition to be talented beyond measure in every way possible. Dolly I feel inspired a whole new wave to want to be country singers, but I feel Barbara inspired new artists to be great. She brought us a ton of new fans and we should always thank her for that. She was very important in our history.
The truly incredible - Barbara Mandrell.
Read About Many Other Great Country Women Here!