Carrie Underwood was at the helm of a Grand Ole Opry tribute to Barbara Mandrell on Saturday night (July 30), as the country legend celebrated her 50th anniversary as a member of the hallowed institution.
Underwood — who performed Mandrell’s hit, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” on the Opry stage — also officially welcomed the legendary performer to the stage during the event, offering a few words about her admiration for Mandrell as she did so.
“Everyone talks about Barbara’s beauty. But, as gorgeous as she is, she’s just as beautiful inside,” Underwood began, going on to point out how Mandrell has long incorporated her faith into her career as a country superstar.
“In addition to all those other things we love about her, she has always worn her faith on her sleeve. She let us know you can love the Lord AND raise a little…heck,” the singer continued. “She has been such an inspiration to me and so many others that stand on the shoulders of great female artists like her. It’s especially fitting to pay tribute to her tonight, in this sacred place we both hold so dear.”
Mandrell was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on July 29, 1972, and as she took the stage to address her fans during her tribute show, she reflected on how important this special stage has been to her throughout the course of her career.
“My last show when I retired in 1997, I chose my home to do my finale performance on and it was this one,” she said.
For her 50th anniversary, the Opry placed Mandrell’s music at the forefront of two Saturday shows. A number of legendary women of the Opry — and country music as a whole — turned out to pay tribute to Mandrell. Among them were Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, Suzy Bogguss, Linda Davis, Mandy Barnett, Janelle Arthur and gospel great CeCe Winans.
“There are so many great, great huge talented woman that performed for us tonight and said so many incredible things about me,” Mandrell reflected. “They know I love them. And the Opry…Lord knows I love the Opry.”
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