Beauty inside

Barbara Mandrell returns to the Grand Ole Opry to celebrate her 50th anniversary as a member

After retiring from music more than 20 years ago, Country Music Hall of Fame and Grammy-winning Barbara Mandrell, 73, made a rare public appearance on July 30 when she returned to the Grand Ole Opry to celebrate her 50th anniversary as a member. To honor the legendary singer, several artists have performed Mandrell’s songs, including Carrie Underwood, who sang Mandrell’s 1981 hit “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”

“Here we are again at home” said Mandrel in a backstage interview at the Opry. “50 years, not everyone gets that blessing.”

Photo credit: Eric Ahlgrim

Just 23 when she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in July 1972, Mandrell was already a seasoned performer as a teenager before moving to Nashville, playing steel guitar and appearing on the TV show country music. town hall party in his home state of California. Along with hits like “If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Want to be Right)” and “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”, Mandrell has won numerous awards and accolades throughout his career. She was the first artist to win back-to-back Country Music Association Artist of the Year awards, won two Grammys, and had a popular run with her early ’80s TV show, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisterswhich introduced a mix of pop, R&B and gospel music and artists along with country.

“A lot of people would say things like, ‘I’ve never listened to country music, but now, boy, I watch it every Saturday night and I love it,'” Mandrell said of his genre show. .

On October 23, 1997, Mandrell, who was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, performed her last concert at the Grand Ole Opry before retiring from music.

“My last show when I retired in 1997, I chose my house to do my final performance and that was it,” Mandrell explained.

“It’s called show business,” Mandrell said of his multi-instrumental shows, which often featured the artist singing and playing everything from banjo, saxophone and steel. pedal. “You have to show them something. Otherwise, they might stay home and listen to your recordings or listen to you on the radio. You have to give them something to entertain them.

Photo credit: © Grand Ole Opry, photo by Chris Hollo

For Underwood, Mandrell’s voice was one that she felt was always present when she was growing up. “She’s been such an inspiration to me and so many others who stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her,” Underwood told the Opry crowd.

“Everyone talks about Barbara’s beauty. But, as beautiful as she is, she is just as beautiful inside. Along with all those other things we love about her, she’s always worn her faith on her sleeve. She let us know that you can love the Lord AND uplift a little…hell,” Underwood shared before welcoming Mandrell onstage. “She has been such an inspiration to me and so many others who stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her. It is especially fitting to honor her tonight in this sacred place that is so dear to us all. both.

In addition to Underwood’s performance, throughout the night CeCe Winans, Linda Davis and Suzy Bogguss also performed some of Mandrell’s hits.

“There are so many amazing, extremely talented women who have played for us tonight and said so many amazing things about me…they know I love them. And the Opry…God knows I love the Opry,” Mandrell shared.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world already,” Mandrell added. “I feel the deepest gratitude and excitement because I’m such a huge fan of these ladies.”

Main photo by: Eric Ahlgrim