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She was country back before country was cool. That phrase from the title of her hit of the same name is pretty descriptive of this Houston, Texas native. Barbara has been a driving force in country since she began her ride to the top. Even though her strength and talents have made her appear destined to be an icon in country, the journey to country's pinnacle wasn't an easy one. Barbara's father, Irby Mandrell, an excellent guitarist in his own right, guided Barbara's career in her early days. That's one common thread she shares with a lot of country music talent; the support of a family that objectively recognized what energy and ability she had as a young musician. Many in the Southern California area where Barbara performed as a child called her 'the Princess of Steel' because of her amazing guitar skill. By 1962, she was touring with Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. Her talent and beauty also helped her earn the title of Miss Oceanside when she was sixteen years old.

As every story in country goes, her talent led her to the Mecca of country, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1968 after doing everything to build her career touring with country notables and places like Vietnam, Barbara made the move to Music City. On Printers' Alley, she performed at clubs that got in front of industry decision makers that wanted to sign her on the spot. The winner in this competition was Columbia, and from 1969 to 1972 she hit with such country classics as 'I've Been Loving You Too Long', 'Do Right Woman', 'Treat Him Right' and 'Show Me'. In 1971, her first top ten hit charted with the song, 'Tonight My Baby's Coming Home'. In 1972, Barbara joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.

One of Barbara's next hits, 'The Midnight Oil', is thought to be one of the first female hits expressing sexuality in an honest way. This song led to Barbara lending her talents to such sexy hits as 'Standing Room Only', Married, But Not To Each Other' and 'Tonight'.

Barbara managed to dominate the music charts, both country and pop, between the years 1978 to 1984 with songs like 'I Don't Want To Be Right' and 'Sleeping Single In A Double Bed'. Her array of hits earned her the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Award in 1979 and 1981, and the CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1980 and 1981. From 1981 to 1982, Barbara and her talented sisters, Louise and Irlene, propelled their self titled variety show to the top of the Nielsen Ratings. Her show gave many country performers a way to showcase their music in front of a worldwide audience. At the end of the 1982 production schedule, Barbara left the television world while she was at the top. Her show was attracting a viewership of around 40,000,000 per week. Barbara has appeared in other television shows like 'Baywatch' and 'Touched By An Angel', as well as several broadcast network and cable network specials.

Barbara's latest musical offering, 'Barbara Mandrell-The Millennium Collection' is a digitally remastered edition of her greatest hits. All the songs on the CD (most mentioned in the article above) show the wonderful musical skill and integrity Barbara has developed during her career. But I don't think the country community would expect anything less of this cornerstone of country music.