Barbara Mandrell was born in 1948 in Houston, Texas. Long before she became famous as a country music sweetheart, young Barbara grew up in a family strongly influenced by music. Her parents encouraged her to sing and study instruments from a young age, and so even before she entered school, Barbara was playing the accordion. Guitar came next, and within just a few years she had nearly perfected playing the steel guitar.
Barbara’s talents caught the eye of producers Joe Maphis and Chet Atkins when she was barely a teenager, and they quickly put her on stage as part of their Vegas show. Throughout her young years, Barbara performed alongside some of country music’s biggest legends, including Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, although it wasn’t long before Barbara decided to form her own band alongside her siblings. The Mandrell Family Band lasted until the late 1960’s, at which time Barbara signed to Columbia Records as a solo artist.
Barbara’s debut single, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” was a smash hit upon its release in that year, and it launched a career for Mandrell that would last well into the new millennium. For the next three decades, Barbara Mandrell would release a series of hit albums and country classics, such as: “The Midnight Oil,” “This Time I Almost Made It,” “Standing Room Only,” “Married, But Not to Each Other,” “Woman to Woman,” “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” “(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to be Right,” “Fooled by a Feeling,” “Years,” “The Best of Strangers,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” “Till You’re Gone,” “One of a Kind Pair of Fools,” “Only a Lonely Heart Knows,” “Fast Lanes and Countr Roads,” “No One Mends a Broken Heart Like You,” and “I Wish That I Could Fall in Love Today.”
In the 1980’s, Barbara Mandrell also had her own television show, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters, which ran for a number of years, earning Barbara two Golden Globe nominations. She also starred in the film Burning Rage in 1984, and appeared on a number of television shows, including: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Baywatch; Rockford Files; Empty Nest; and Walker, Texas Ranger. She was also the first woman to win the “Entertainer of the Year” from the Country Music Association twice, and aside from Taylor Swift, she’s been the only female performer to do so. Mandrell has also been recognized with multiple awards and nominations from a variety of industry academies, including the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association Awards, the American Music Awards, and the Grammy Awards.
Barbara Mandrell continues to perform on occasion. She was most recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.