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Barbara Mandrell Returns to the Opry for 50th Anniversary | Arts & Entertainment

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Country Music Hall of Fame and Grammy Award winner Barbara Mandrell retired from music more than 20 years 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 a member of the Opry.

“Here we are at home again,” Mandrell said in an interview with The Associated Press backstage at the Opry House ahead of the long-running radio and TV show. You don’t get that blessing.”

Born in Texas and raised in California, Mandrell was just 23 years old when he became a member in July 1972. California based countryman on his TV show “Town Hall Party”.

During her decades-long career, an actor, multi-instrumentalist and singer, she appeared in the 70’s and 80’s on the popular TV show “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” as well as through her hit songs. It has brought millions of fans into country music. “Sleep alone in a double bed”, “If loving you is wrong (I don’t want to be right)”, “I was country when country wasn’t cool”, etc.

She became the first country artist to win back-to-back Entertainer of the Year awards from the Country Music Association, crossing over with R&B covers to bring glamor and showmanship to the genre. Her performance was a showcase of her musicality, including singing on the rafters, playing pedal steel, playing the banjo and saxophone.

“It’s called show business. You have to show them something,” Mandrell said. “Otherwise, they can sit at home and listen to your recordings or the radio. You have to give them something to entertain them with.”

With sisters Louise and Arlene, Mandrell harnessed the power of television to bring new ears to country and gospel music. Her musical guests were a mix of R&B, pop and country her artists.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I’ve never heard country music, but now I watch it every Saturday night and I love it,'” said Mandrell.

Mandrell was still the champion of country music this Saturday night. Before the show started, Mandrell watched Carrie Underwood from the sidestage as Underwood did a soundcheck for “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” before stopping and hugging her, saying Underwood I greeted Wood’s band members.

Underwood said Mandrell’s voice was always around him as he grew up.

“She has been a huge inspiration to me and many others who have stood on the shoulders of great female artists like her,” Underwood told the Opry audience.

During the Opry Show, Mandrell enthusiastically applauded as an all-female artist line-up including CeCe Winans, Linda Davis, and Suzy Bogguss performed their hits.

“I already feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m a huge fan of these women, so I feel the deepest appreciation and excitement,” Mandrell said.

Sitting in the middle of the crowd, Mandrell waved and kissed a fan who took a picture of the country star.

Mandrell has not played or sang music since retiring in 1997. outside the church. “

Mandrell said another farewell from the same Opry stage 25 years later, wearing a hot pink pantsuit and on stage surrounded by 50 dozen lavender roses purchased by fans.

“We chose a house to do our last performance, and it was this house,” said Mandrell. “God bless you!” she told fans before stepping off the stage and into the shadows.