When do you think of the most recognizable female country stars of all time? Who comes to mind? Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Reba McEntire are likely to come to mind, but what about Barbara Mandrell?

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mandrell was among the most popular country performers. She was named Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Awards twice and received two Grammys.

She decided to retire in 1997, at 48, after performing at the Grand Ole Opry House, and promptly vanished from public view. She hasn’t made many headlines or public appearances in connection with her music career since then; instead, she paints, gardens, and spends time with her family and pets.

Why would such a well-known celebrity decide to retire and fade from view? Here’s the real reason for Barbara Mandrell’s disappearance.

In the early 1980s, Barbara Mandrell must have thought the world was at her feet. She was a hugely successful country crossover sensation winning awards left and right.

She entered the television industry in addition to her singing career. However, in 1984, at the height of her celebrity, she found herself amid a disaster. On September 11, that same year, she was killed in a car accident. The second driver was killed.

Two of Mandrell’s children, who were in the car with her, were also injured, suffering concussions and leg fractures. Mandrell needed to recover for a year and a half before she could resume her musical career.

She has dedicated her life since the accident to advocating for the use of seatbelts, even though her children were not wearing them at the time of the collision.

Fans were outraged when Mandrell and her husband, Ken Dudney, sued Mark White’s family for $10.3 million in damages, despite their lawyer later explaining that they needed to sue to get money from the insurance company.

According to the police report from the incident, the other driver, 19-year-old Mark White, was found to have crossed the center line of the road, which caused the collision.

Despite a difficult period in the mid-1980s, Barbara Mandrell was able to resurrect her career. Over the next ten years, she climbed to the top of the American country music charts.

Her autobiography “Get to the Heart: My Story,” published in 1990, was a huge success, spending more than three months on the New York Times bestseller list before being adapted into a popular CBS film in 1997.

Mandrell announced his retirement after performing at the Grand Ole Opry that year.

According to Taste of Country, she left simply because she wanted to spend more time with her family, particularly her high school-aged son. Even after selling her instruments, she rarely performed, preferring to spend time at home with her family.

Despite this, she remained in her regular role as Alex Mitchum in “Sunset Beach” until 1998. This occurred following Mandrell’s final concert appearance.

Mandrell’s future appearances do not appear to be promising. She is now in her seventies, has been mostly inactive since 2000, and appears content with life in the shadows.

Barbara Mandrell’s music is still heard today, even though she no longer performs or records professionally. In 2009, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

As Mandrell thanked her father, Irby, for launching her career, superstars such as Reba McEntire, Michael McDonald, and Louise sang songs in her honor. Irby died just two months before the event, at 84.

“Irby Mandrell was both my manager and father during my 38-year career. “He directed, led, and taught me,” the country singer stated.

“Mandrell, I am fortunate to have his name, and our name has become well-known thanks to the generous public and fans. So tonight, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for inducting Mandrell’s name into the Hall of Fame.”

“Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” Mandrell’s first number-one country song in 1978, was remixed in 2020 by producer and DJ Dave Aude, who has worked with celebrities such as Rihanna and Beyoncé.

“Oh my goodness, I was happy,” Mandrell said of the finished product. I’m pleased with how well the arrangement and beat complement each other.”

Barbara Mandrell triumphantly returned to the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville on July 30, 2022, more than three decades after retiring, to commemorate the country music Mecca’s 50th anniversary.

Mandrell, currently the 10th-oldest active inducted member, said of the Grand Ole Opry, “It feels cozy and like home,” according to USA Today. She went on to say that being inducted into its hallowed halls in 1972, at the age of 23, was “one of the happiest moments of her career.”

Mandrell refuses to let country music’s sometimes shady reputation deter her from adoring the genre she has had her entire life. Carrie Underwood told the audience that Mandrell is the reason she is where she is now.

Carrie Underwood was among the all-female performers on the bill. “She has been such an inspiration to me and many others who stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her,” Underwood said. Notably, Mandrell observed her soundcheck and expressed her appreciation.

“Thank you to the @opry for celebrating me and welcoming me home, whether you were in person or watching from home,” the country singer later said on Instagram. I felt so much love from each of you, and I wish you could have known how I felt. Oh, how I adore the Opry!”