I was born in Houston, but we moved to Corpus Christi shortly after that. My father was a cop there for about five years, and that’s where my sisters, Louise and Irlene, were born. My mother was a music teacher, so she taught me how to read music and play the three-quarter-size accordion. Both of my parents are musical, and there was always picking and singing around the house. I remember once I was at my cousins’ home in Falfurrias. We were playing outside—and I’m talking this is when I’m a little girl—and we were singing, of all things, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” All of a sudden I started to hear harmony. I began to sing it, and I just thought, “This is the neatest thing in the world.” Music was always very, very important.
Country singer Barbara Mandrell lived in Texas until age six. After landing her first gig in Las Vegas at eleven, Mandrell went on to record hit songs, star in her own television series, and write a best-selling autobiography. She is a contributor to her son Matthew Dudney’s new cookbook, The Mandrell Family Cookbook, which is in bookstores now.