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Thelma Louise Mandrell was born in 1954, to Mary Ellen (née McGill; born 1931) and Irby Matthew Mandrell (October 11, 1924 – March 5, 2009) in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States. She is the second of three daughters. Sister Barbara is five and a half years older; sister Irlene is one and a half years younger. Her mother, Mary, was a homemaker and musician hailing from rural Wayne County, Illinois. Her father Irby was a World War II naval veteran and Texas police officer from Garland County, Arkansas. Irby Mandrell was an accomplished musician and entrepreneur as well. He used his impeccable social skills and knowledge of the music industry to manage all three of his daughters' careers for over three decades.
Although Louise Mandrell never developed the scale of fan base or the worldwide recognition that her older sister Barbara gained in country music, she is still credited as one of country music's more successful female vocalists of the 1980s. With their parents coming from a musical background, Barbara started off working as a singer, and playing the steel guitar and other instruments, and toured with Patsy Cline in the early 1960s. Mandrell learned to play the guitar and bass. Soon, their parents founded the Mandrell Family Band, which toured the United States and Asia.
Barbara's professional recognition in country music in the early 1970s with hits like "Treat Him Right", "Show Me" and "The Midnight Oil" gave Louise opportunities at success. She started performing in Barbara's band The DoRites in 1969. Her first time in the studio was on the recording "Always Wanting You", a no. 1 hit for Haggard in 1975. In 1978, she signed with Epic Records.
Her marriage to Ronald Shaw on July 1, 1971, ended in divorce in 1973. She subsequently married Gary Lamar Buck of the country music group The Four Guys on July 23, 1975. They divorced in 1978.
In 1978, Mandrell met R.C. Bannon. They married on February 26, 1979. He co-wrote songs for Barbara. "One of a Kind Pair of Fools" is a 1983 single written by Bannon and John Bettis and recorded by Barbara Mandrell. "Only One Love in My Life," written by R.C. Bannon and John Bettis, was Ronnie Milsap's 10th number 1.
Mandrell and Bannon adopted Nicole Mandrell Shipley in 1986. The couple divorced in 1991 and she married, for a fourth time, to John Haywood on July 16, 1993.
She became a grandmother for the first time in 2013.
Mandrell released her first single in 1978, called "Put It On Me", which appeared in the Billboard country music singles chart. In 1979, she released her next single, a cover version of "Everlasting Love", another minor country hit. She started singing duets with her husband R.C. Bannon, such as "I Thought You'd Never Ask," which entered the top 50, and a cover of the number 1 song by Peaches & Herb, "Reunited", which went to number 13, her first significant hit. In 1980, following two more solo efforts that did not see the same success, she joined sisters Barbara and Irlene on the TV variety show Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. This show showcased not only her singing, but her multi-instrumental and comedy talents as well. In 1981, she signed with RCA Records. In 1982, Mandrell had two top 40 hits, as well as the top 20 hit "Some of My Best Friends Are Old Songs".
1983 turned out to be her most successful year. She entered the top 15 with "Runaway Heart," and had the two top 10 hits "Save Me" (originally recorded by Northern Irish singer Clodagh Rodgers) and "Too Hot to Sleep". In 1984, Mandrell had two other Top 40 hits, "Goodbye Heartache" and "I'm Not Through Loving You Yet," and in 1985 the song "I Wanna Say Yes" entered the top 5.
In 1985, RCA released her first video for the hit single "Some Girls Have All The Luck".
Mandrell's last studio album Dreamin' was released in 1987, with the single "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips" and having her last top 40 hit with the single "Do I Have To Say Goodbye". Her last charted single came in 1988, a cover of the song "As Long As We Got Each Other", a duet with Eric Carmen.
RCA dropped Mandrell in 1988. During the 1990s, she released the videos and songs "Jean Paul" and "Down Home Christmas".
She was named the official 'Sweetheart of Tennessee.'
She was the unanimous choice of 50 Tennessee city managers -- the first time the city manager's association has so honored anyone. Miss Mandrell accepted 50 inscribed crimson hearts from the managers and in return entertained them with a few tunes. She also was named 1981's 'Yellow Rose of Texas' by the Texas state legislature, another first
Mandrell continues to perform at selected special occasions and corporate events. In December 2007, she performed in Washington, D.C., with the National Army band.
Over the Christmas and New Year 2008–2009, Mandrell performed at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for one month. The multi-instrumental dinner show was entitled "Joy to the World". Mandrell also announced her intention to create a new show in 2010, "The Gift".
In 2009, she signed with Strouadavarious Records and announced her intention to release an album of country classics and a Christmas-themed album.
During 2011 and 2012, Mandrell joined Lee Greenwood on selected tour dates, including a six-week Branson run at the Welk Resort Theatre from September 12 – October 22.
Mandrell's final Christmas show at Gaylord Opryland titled "Louise Mandrell's Christmas Dinner Party" took place November 18 – December 25, 2011.
After 30 years, she released Playing Favorites, her 11th studio album of country standards on October 4, 2019.
Mandrell appeared on the Opry's country classic show in Nashville. The last time she performed on that stage was 50 years ago. the show was broadcast live on the radio program, Opry Country Classics at the Ryman Auditorium, October 3, 2019. She is scheduled to perform on the Grand Ole Opry live from the Ryman on November 30, 2019.
2022 Louise and Irlene join the special Opry show on 7/30/2022 for the 50th year membership of sister Barbara Mandrell as a Opry member. Louise once again took to the Opry stage in the Country classics segment 10/13/2022.