Who immediately comes to mind when you consider the most well-known female country stars of all time? Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Reba McEntire are usually the first musicians who come to mind, but what about Barbara Mandrell? Mandrell was among the most well-liked country music artists in the 1970s and 1980s. He won two Grammys and twice took home the Entertainer of the Year honor at the Country Music Awards, presented by Taste of Country.
She made the decision to retire in 1997 at the age of just 48 following a performance at the Grand Ole Opry House, and she quickly vanished from the public eye. Since then, she hasn’t appeared in the media or in front of large crowds in connection with her singing profession; instead, she spends her time painting, gardening, and spending time with her family and pets (source: CBN). Why would such a well-known person decide to retire and disappear overnight? Here is what led to Barbara Mandrell’s disappearance in the first place.
In the early 1980s, Barbara Mandrell must have believed the world was at her feet. She was a highly successful country crossover star who was being recognized everywhere. She started working in television in addition to her musical career. But in 1984, when she was at the height of her celebrity, she was caught in a disaster. On September 11 of the same year, she was engaged in a deadly auto accident. The other motorist passed away.
Mandrell’s two children who were in the car with her also suffered wounds, including a fractured leg and a concussion (source: The New York Times). Before Mandrell could restart her musical career, she needed to undergo rehabilitation for a whole year and a half. Despite the fact that neither of her children were wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision, she has devoted the rest of her life to campaigning for their use (source: Chicago Tribune).
Fans criticized Mandrell and her husband Ken Dudney for suing Mark White’s family for $10.3 million in damages, even though their attorney later said that they needed to sue to receive money from the insurance company. According to the police report from the event (via UPI), the other driver, 19-year-old Mark White, was discovered to have crossed the center line of the road, which is what resulted in the crash.
Despite going through that challenging time in the middle of the 1980s, Barbara Mandrell was able to somewhat revive her career. Over the following 10 years, she rose to the top of the American country music charts. Her 1990 autobiography “Get to the Heart: My Story” was also a great hit and spent more than three months on the New York Times bestseller list before being turned into a well-liked CBS film in 1997. (via Variety). But that year, after appearing at the Grand Ole Opry, Mandrell made his retirement official (through K-Law).
According to Taste of Country, she simply wanted to spend more time with her family, especially her high school-aged son. She continued to play seldom even after selling her instruments since she preferred to stay home with her family. Despite this, she carried on portraying Alex Mitchum in “Sunset Beach” until 1998 in her regular role. This came after Mandrell’s last concert performance, according to IMDb.
Mandrell’s future appearances do not look to be very likely. She is currently in her seventies, has not done anything since the year 2000, and appears pleased with her life as a background figure.
Even though Barbara Mandrell stopped making money from her performances and recordings, her music is still popular today. In 2009, she received her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (source: NWTN Today). Stars including Reba McEntire, Michael McDonald, and Louise delivered songs in honor of Barbara as Mandrell thanked her father Irby for helping begin her career. Just two months prior to the event, Irby passed away at the age of 84 (source: Los Angeles Times).
Irby Mandrell was both my manager and my father during my 38-year career. The country singer alleged that he guided, coached, and instructed me.Mandrell is a name I’m blessed to have, and the kind-hearted public and admirers have helped our name spread. So tonight, I want to express my sincere gratitude for adding Mandrell’s name to the Hall of Fame.
“Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” the first number-one country single Mandrell had in 1978, was remixed in 2020 by producer and DJ Dave Aude, who has worked with stars like Rihanna and Beyoncé (via Rolling Stone). Mandrell exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, I was happy,” after praising the finished product. I like how the arrangement and beat flow so perfectly together.
On July 30, 2022, more than three decades after she had retired, living icon Barbara Mandrell joyously made her way back to the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville to celebrate her 50th anniversary with the country music Mecca. According to USA Today, Mandrell, who is presently the 10th-oldest active inducted member, remarked of the Grand Ole Opry, “It feels cozy and like home.” She continued by stating that being admitted into its esteemed halls in 1972, when she was only 23, was “one of the happiest moments of her career.”
Mandrell is determined to continue her lifelong love of country music despite its occasionally dubious reputation. Mandrell is the reason Carrie Underwood is where she is today, she told the gathered audience. One of the night’s all-female performances was Carrie Underwood. She has been such an influence to me and to so many other people who stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her, Underwood remarked. Notably, Mandrell saw her soundcheck and gave her the same encouragement.
Thank you to the @opry for celebrating me and bringing me home, whether you were there in person or watching from home, the country singer gushed on Instagram after the event. She also shared pictures from the occasion. Each of you made me feel so loved, and I wish you could understand what a difference you made in my life. Oh my God, I adore the Opry!”