Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25: Country music singer Barbara Mandrell - I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" - is 65-years-old today.

Born into a musical family in Houston, Texas on Christmas Day of 1948, Barbara Ann Mandrell is 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 the 1970s and 1980s.

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

She was the first performer and is currently the only female in country music history to win the Country Music Association's "Entertainer of the Year" award twice, and she has also won the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" twice.

Mandrell's first No. 1 hit was 1978's "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" and immediately followed by "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" in early 1979.

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), 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.

Barbara was already reading music and playing accordion at age five. Six years later, she was so adept at playing steel guitar that her father brought her to a music trade convention in Chicago, where she 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. Her network TV debut came on the NBC-TV series Five Star Jubilee in 1961.

While growing up, she was taught 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. As a result, Mandrell toured as a 13-year-old with Cline, Johnny Cash and George Jones. She also played guitar for Joe Maphis in Las Vegas and on the Town Hall Party show in Los Angeles.

A couple of years later, Barbara and her sisters Louise and Irlene, as well as her parents, founded the Mandrell Family Band. They toured across the United States and Asia.
Mandrell decided to 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.

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.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

Recommended (Press album covers for direct links to Amazon):

20th Century Masters: Millennium CollectionUltimate CollectionBest of the Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters Show

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."

In 1975, Mandrell jumped to the ABC/Dot label, and reached the Top Five for the first time with the single "Standing Room Only."  After a series of successive hits, she earned 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. "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.
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.

That same year, 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 understood 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.

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.

"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."

A collection of duets with Lee Greenwood, Meant for Each Other, followed in 1984. 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."

While Mandrell was at the peak of her popularity, she was involved in a serious automobile accident on September 11, 1984. After a year-and-a-half of rehabilitation, she recovered and returned to recording and performing. 

However, beginning in 1986, the country music landscape had changed dramatically, with the "new traditionalist" movement gaining dominance while the glitzier, more pop-influenced music Mandrell favored began falling out of favor.

Her popularity began to fade by the end of the decade. Mandrell had her last charting country 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.

She retired in November of 1997.

On May 17, 2009, Barbara was welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the Medallion ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

For more about Barbara, visit her Website at -

No comments:

Post a Comment