NASHVILLE, Tennessee. – Grammy-winning Country Music Hall of Fame singer Barbara Mandrell retired from music more than two decades ago, but the Grand Ole Opry still feels like home.
Mandrell, 73, made a rare public appearance Saturday night at the Opry to celebrate his 50th anniversary as an Opry member.
“Here we are back home,” Mandrell told The Associated Press in a backstage interview at the Opry House before the long-running radio and television show. “50 years. Not everyone gets that blessing.”
Born in Texas and raised in California, Mandrell was just 23 when she became a member in July 1972. But she was already a seasoned artist by the time she arrived in Nashville, having spent her teenage years playing steel guitar and appearing regularly on the California-based country TV show “Town Hall Party.”
Throughout her decades-long career, the actress, multi-instrumentalist and singer turned millions of fans on to country music in the 1970s and 1980s, not only through her popular TV show “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters,” but also through of successes such as “Sleeping single in a double bed”, “If loving you is wrong (I don’t wanna be right)” and “I was country when country wasn’t great”.
She became the first country artist to win back-to-back Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year awards, crossing over with R&B covers and bringing glamor and spectacle to the genre. His performances were a showcase of his musicality, whether he was singing to the top of the rafters, playing pedal steel, the banjo or the saxophone.
“It’s called show business. You’ve got to show them something,” Mandrell said. “Otherwise, they could sit at home and listen to your recordings or listen to you on the radio. You have to give them something to entertain them.”
With his sisters Louise and Irlene, Mandrell used the power of television to bring new ears to country music as well as gospel music. Their musical guests were a mix of R&B, pop and country artists.
“A lot of people would say things like, ‘I never listened to country music, but now, boy, I’m watching it every Saturday night and I love it,'” Mandrell said.
On this Saturday night, Mandrell was still a champion of country music. Before the show began, Mandrell watched Carrie Underwood from sidestage as Underwood did her soundcheck of “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” stopping to give her a hug and say hello to members of Underwood’s band.
Underwood said growing up, Mandrell’s voice was ever-present.
“She was an inspiration to me and to so many others who stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her,” Underwood told the Opry audience.
During the Opry show, Mandrell enthusiastically applauded the lineup of female artists, including CeCe Winans, Linda Davis and Suzy Bogguss, as they performed their hits.
“I already feel on top of the world. I feel the deepest of gratitude and excitement because I’m a huge fan of these women,” Mandrell said.
From his seat in the middle of the crowd, Mandrell waved and blew kisses to his fans, who snapped photos of the country star.
Mandrell has not played music or sung, except in church, since she retired in 1997. Her last concert was at the Opry House and was turned into a television special called “Barbara Mandrell and the Do-Rites: The Last Dance.” ”
Elegantly dressed in a hot pink pantsuit and surrounded by 50 vases of roses bought by her fans, Mandrell bid another farewell from the same Opry stage 25 years later.
“I chose my home to do my last performance and this was it,” Mandrell said. “God bless you!” he told fans before exiting the stage in the shadows.
Follow Kristin M. Hall at https://twitter.com/kmhall
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Barbara Mandrell returns to the Opry for the 50th anniversary
Source link Barbara Mandrell returns to the Opry for the 50th anniversary