There was a time when Barbara Mandrell had the world right under her feet. The award-winning country music star used to be one of the biggest names in the genre, coming from a musical family – the Mandrell Family Band.
At a point, she changed the way women in country music wrote their songs and then it was as though she would be there forever and always. However, she has since pulled away from active music, leaving fans to wonder what really happened to her.
Background and Early Life
As noted, Barbara Mandrell grew up in the eyes of the public. Birthed in 1948, she was a child prodigy and even before the age of 10, she was already known for her talent as a singer and had already launched a career therein, together with her sisters.
Oldest of the three including Louise Mandrell who has also gone on to have a successful career as a country singer and Irlene Mandrell who took it even farther by also becoming a model and actress, Barbara’s parents were musically inclined and so since a very early age, they charted her path into becoming a music star.
She started learning different musical instruments before she was 10 and by the time she was 14, her career had already taken a shape of its own.
When she was still a teenager, her father hired a drummer named Ken Dudney for the family band. The two would come to fall in love. Although her parents did not approve of their relationship at first, the lovers still stayed true to each other and in 1967, they got married.
At that point, her career was on the rise but she later decided to call it quits and focus on building her family. Nonetheless, Barbara Mandrell reconsidered her early retirement and returned to music.
In the years that followed, she achieved so much success and it was as though she would be around till the end of time. Before Barbara, most country music nurtured the idea of men cheating on their women. She changed the narrative with her controversial breakthrough hit, “The Midnight Oil”, in which she had the woman as the one that cheated.
Thanks to songs like that, she was able to take charge of the country music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. Releasing her debut album (Treat Him Right) in 1971, she continued with a strong career that would record 25 studio albums and 1 live album. She has had a number of songs that have topped the chart including “Years”, “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”, and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”.
Barbara Mandrell suffered a major setback in 1984 which also happened to be the peak of her career. She was involved in a car crash that led to the death of Mark White, a teenage college student while she had multiple fractures. Following the crash, she sued the family of White who was said to have caused the crash so as to get her insurance company to pay. Although she said this was only a formality that was required by Tennessee law, she received serious backlash from the public. This led to a drop in her ticket and record sales. Barbara was able to bounce back from this and continued to thrive until the early 1990s when the tide moved towards newer country singers.
In 1997, she finally retired but not without many awards to her name including the Academy of Country Music Awards, American Music Awards, and Country Music Association Awards. In 1980 and ’81, she won the Country Music Association Entertainer of the year which made her the first person to record the feat of winning the award twice.
More so, in 2009, she got inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and then the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2014.
Barbara has also had a brief stint on TV having appeared in shows such as Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters, Texas Ranger, and The Rockford Files.
Since her retirement from music, Barbara Mandrell has mostly stayed away from the public. With all her children now grown, she spends most of her time with her husband traveling. Her net worth is estimated at $45 million.
While she has not released any record since the late 1990s, her recent compilation album, This Time I Almost Made It: The Lost Columbia Masters was released in 2016. For now, there is no indication that she will return to music again.