PART 1: BARBARA MANDRELL ON WINNING CMA ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

PART 1: BARBARA MANDRELL ON WINNING CMA ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR

No artist had won the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award in consecutive years until Barbara Mandrell pulled off that impressive feat. That was in 1980 and 1981, at a time when her fame had extended beyond Country Music as a result of her hit NBC weekly variety program, “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters.”

Retired since 1997, elected to CMA’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, she enjoys an unrivaled legacy as a singer, dancer, comedienne, multi-instrumentalist, actor … and, above all, entertainer.

What was it like to first be nominated for the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award?

Well, I’m going to try to make this as candid and from-my-heart as I can, because since I’ve retired, I don’t have to watch what I say, which is kind of a wonderful thing [laughs].

I was a very driven person. Because I had spent all but the first 10 years of my life entertaining, that was my ultimate thing. I love, love, love phenomenal singers and extraordinary writers, because there would be no music without the fantastic writers. But above all, what I wanted most in my heart to do was to entertain people. Whether that was live or on television or in a variety show or even on the radio, it didn’t matter. The length of time I was on the air, talking to a wonderful radio personality, that was my time. It was given to me, so I should make good use of it. So the most important thing was to entertain the listener, the viewer, or whatever. So “Entertainer of the Year” was my main goal [laughs]

How did you deal with being nominated but not winning any particular award?

If I lost, it motivated me. It made me have more drive, like, “OK, well, I’ll show you! Wait until next year!” It would drive my motor hard to do everything I could do to entertain. And if I won, it did the exact same thing, only it was, “I’ve got to show everybody that I’m grateful and that I appreciate this – and now I’ve got to give them my all.” It was the same, win or lose … but winning felt so much better!

You’re a very competitive person!

I always have been, but I compete with myself. I just want to be better than me all the time.

You’re the first artist to win CMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award in consecutive years.

The second year (1981), I wasn’t even thinking about it because I knew I could not win it, because nobody had ever won it twice. It was just something that did not happen, so it never entered my mind. Anyway, I hosted the show with Mac Davis that year – he was a real pro to work with, so that was a delight – and I was just worried about hosting and making it a good show for everyone. For the shots they do of the nominee (before reading the winner’s name), I was standing backstage, busy thinking about signing off the show. And you know that old thing about you could have knocked me over with a feather? When they called my name, it was unbelievable!

NEXT WEEK – Barbara Mandrell explains why she loves modern Country Music!

FOR MORE REFLECTIONS FROM WINNERS OF THE CMA ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR AWARD, SEE THE OCT/NOV 2013 ISSUE OF CMA CLOSE UP.