Barbara Mandrell has been happy with her husband for 55 years.
She quit her singing career to focus on her family.
Now she has a new life at 74.
Country music star Barbara Mandrell has had a beautiful life. She recently celebrated her 74th birthday after she left her music career to pour her focus into her personal life. Yet her music is still played by her fans.
During her career, the singer earned more than 70 awards and had an over three-decade career. She has even been commemorated in the Nashville museum. She retired from music in 1997.
Mandrell, who turned 74 on December 25, 2022, retired from music in 1997 so she could focus more on her family and her religion. Talking about why she did it, she said:
“[God, country, and family] are the most important things. We’re only here to love God and each other. I’m not saying I’ve never gotten angry at anyone. I do. But you’ve got to forgive and move on.”
When asked if she would ever return to music after retirement, she confirmed there was no chance of it happening. She said her fans thought she might do a reunion tour, but she sold all her equipment when she retired and has never looked back.
She shared that now she only sings alongside everyone else at church. When asked what helped her become “People’s” Most Beautiful Person twice, she joked that it was all down to good genetics from her mother and performing for 37 years.
Mandrell and Her Husband of 55 Years Are Still in Love
Mandrell’s father was the reason that she and her husband of 55 years got together as he hired Ken Dudney to be a drummer in the family band called “The Mandrell Family Band.” Mandrell admitted that she fell hard for Dudney.
She shared that he was a kind and polite young man when she met him. At 14, she thought he was excellent, and they ended up dating all through high school. When asked if Dudney proposed to her, Mandrell confirmed that he did, but she didn’t initially say yes.
An interviewer once asked if Mandrell had made Dudney beg for her hand in marriage, but she revealed this was not the case. She shared:
“We were very much in love, and we very much wanted to get married. I very much had to graduate high school first.”
Another thing that stopped them from getting married right away was that Dudney was engaged to someone else at the time. He broke off his engagement when he first laid eyes on Mandrell as he knew he wanted to be with her.
The couple eventually married in 1967 and finally achieved their dream. However, they faced difficulties like any other married couple. Some of the things that contributed to their difficult times were Dudney being in the navy and Mandrell focusing on her singing career.
When asked how they have kept their love alive for so long, the country music singer admits that there have been times when she and her husband don’t get along but said that keeping God at the center of their union has helped them overcome many hardships and kept them feeling blessed.
Mandrell said that she and her husband are both passionate people and have yelled at one another, but they make up soon enough. From their union, they welcomed three children; Jaime, Nathaniel, and Kenneth.
Their son, Nathaniel, is what Mandrell considers a miracle. She once shared how doctors had told her she may have miscarried her baby, but there was no way to find out until the following day.
She admitted that she went all night thinking that her baby had died. She and Dudney prayed throughout the night. When she could finally go in for an ultrasound the following day, they found Nathaniel alive and sucking his thumb.
Barbara Mandrell is Back after 25 Years
Although her sister once told fans that her sister would never return to the stage as she kept to her word about everything, Mandrell did make a comeback in August 2022 when she returned to the stage once more.
She appeared at the Grand Ole Opry to celebrate 50 years of being a member. She said the venue felt like home to her as she was so comfortable there. She also said how proud she was of country music.
Mandrell was welcomed onto the stage by Carrie Underwood, who described Mandrell as an inspiration. She then said:
“I chose my home to do my final performance on, and it was this one.”
The legendary country singer made this announcement minutes before she stepped off stage after giving her final performance of her life. She then walked off stage and into the wings as the crowd cheered.