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American country singer Barbara Mandrell scored No. 1 hits with "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" and "Years."
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As an 18-year-old, she released her first single, "Queen for a Day," in 1966. A year later, she married Ken Dudney and briefly retired from music to become a housewife. But Barbara missed performing and returned to music in 1969, signing with Columbia Records and charting for the fist time with a cover of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long." In 1970, Barbara released "Playin' Around With Love" and also gave birth to her first child,
While signed to Columbia Records, Mandrell worked with country music producer Billy Sherrill, but her songs on the label did not have much success. Reflecting on this time, Mandrell later recalled: "There have been many times when I thought other people might be better singers or better musicians or prettier than me, but then I would hear Daddy's voice telling me to never say never, and I would find a way to squeeze an extra inch or two out of what God had given me." Barbara strove to make a name and a place for women in country music and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1972.
Mandrell stayed with Columbia until 1975, when she joined ABC/DOT with producer Tom Collins. She also began collaborating with country singer David Houston and her success began to grow. Her first true hit album, The Midnight Oil, was released in 1973, winning her many fans. Throughout the remainder of the decade, Mandrell continued to release records with ABC, scoring her first Top 40 hit with "Standing Room Only" in 1975. In 1976, she gave birth to a daughter, Jamie Nicole, and in 1978 she scored her first No. 1 hit, "Sleeping Single in A Double Bed."
In the early 1980s, Mandrell remained a popular artist, releasing a string of hit records including her most famous song, "I Was Country (When Country Wasn't Cool)." She also launched a television program, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters, which included musical performances and comedy sketches. Barbara began racking up awards, eventually becoming one of the most decorated country performers in history, winner of seven American Music Awards and nine Country Music Awards.
In 1982, Mandrell released an explicitly religious-themed album entitled He Set My Life To Music, showcasing her deep and lifelong religious devotion. In an interview with friend and fellow singer Cece Winans, Mandrell spoke mainly about her faith and said of her musical talent, "It's all, every bit, from God. He orchestrated all of it. The only reason I got to reap the benefits of his guidance ... is because I know him, I gave myself to him. When I was ten I got saved." The album won Mandrell a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Inspirational Performance.
Just a year later, Mandrell's faith would be tested by a brush with death. She was involved in a serious head-on car collision while driving on the freeway and barely survived, suffering multiple fractures, lacerations, and memory loss. Her two children were riding in the car with her; she had an intuition just before the crash to remind them to buckle their seatbelts, which saved their lives.
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