Even though I’ve always appreciated country music, it took me a long to learn about Barbara Mandrell. When I first heard her voice, I knew she was unique.
She is now a legend in her own time, remembered as one of the best female performers of all time.
Barbara, also known as “The Sweetheart of Steel” for her many positive contributions to the Nashville music scene, deserves the title.
She is not only a talented singer but also appears to be a kind and thoughtful person.
This legendary figure has already reached the ripe old age of 73, yet it hasn’t dimmed her star power one bit.
Born in Los Angeles on December 25, 1948, Barbara Mandrell has always had music flowing through her veins. Even before she learnt English, she was able to read music notation for the piano. She started playing the accordion when she was five years old and gave her first Las Vegas performance when she was eleven.
Barbara’s life path was clear from an early age; she was always going to be a musician.
Barbara’s father was a key influence on her decision to pursue a career in music. In time, he’d take on management duties for her as well. In 1968, the family relocated to Nashville, the center of the country music industry. After signing a record deal, Barbara quickly became a household name.
Barbara’s father played a role in her meeting her future husband, Ken Dudney. Their first meeting occurred when Ken was hired by Barbara’s father to play drums in the Mandrell Family Band.
At the time, Ken was 21 and she was 14.
They fell in love at first sight, but there was a major stumbling block: Ken was engaged to someone else. He eventually chose to call off the engagement. Barbara and Ken met in 1963, and four years later, on May 28, 1967, they tied the knot.
”He was smart enough to be kind and polite but cool. When I fell, I fell hard. We went together all through high school. We were very much in love, and we very much wanted to get married. I very much had to graduate from high school first,” Barbara told CBN.
Barbara and Ken’s relationship, like any other, had its ups and downs. Barbara devoted a lot of time to her job, and Ken was a pilot in the Navy for a while.
When Ken was serving in Vietnam, he and Barbara were separated and couldn’t see each other for a long time.
But the couple was able to keep the fire burning, and they now have three lovely children: Kenneth Matthew Dudney (born in 1970), Jaime Nicole Dudney (born in 1976), and Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney (born in 1978). (b. 1985).
What’s the key to the success of their marriage? When asked in 2009 what made her relationship with Ken so fulfilling, Barbara cited a number of factors.
”There are times when Ken and I would like to put each other through a wall! It happens, but we married for forever, and keeping God at the center of our lives has made it work and made it blessed and happy. Ken and I both are outgoing people — we’re yellers and screamers! But we’re also passionate at making up,” Barbara told The Boot.
Barbara has often cited God as the reason she and Ken were able to remain married for so long.
”By our Heavenly Father and only because of God, only because of God. We’re like other couples. We do not get along perfectly; we do not go without arguments and, as I call them, fights, and heartache and pain and hurting each other. But a marriage is three of us,” she told CBN in 2002
Barbara has won virtually every music accolade there is, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. But she also has an odd collection of awards: Barbara has been featured in the Most Beautiful People issue of PEOPLE magazine twice.
How does she manage to seem so young, even at 73? In my opinion, she is the most stunning female country singer of all time.
”As far as beauty goes — my mother is just really cute. At one time, I had her figure. When I was working, I was very disciplined and was doing 90 minutes of aerobics at every show. So I was lean and mean! My mother is maximum a size 2 — it just makes me sick! [laughs] So I keep hoping one day I’ll just turn into her,” Barbara says.
They make a great couple, and it’s great that they’ve stayed married for so long.
Barbara is the perfect embodiment of what God intended for us to be… She learned to love without conditions and to let that love shine through…
Indeed, she is a one-of-a-kind individual. In addition to Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell is the best country vocalist in my opinion and the best performance of all time.
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