The first time Louise Mandrell booked a speaking engagement was for the opening of the East Brainerd Chapel of the Chattanooga Funeral Home Crematorium and Florist 20 years ago.
“I arrived and found out I was talking to an audience of ministers, and I was so nervous,” she said in a phone interview. But that wasn’t his only unexpected moment.
“At the time, it was new to have a dove release, and they asked me to participate in a dove release at the end. I was holding a dove and I looked up and I saw a falcon circling, so I wouldn’t let go of the dove,” she recalled with a laugh.
“We finally convinced her to release the dove, and she returned home safely,” laughing Stephen Pike, vice president of Chattanooga Funeral Home.
Mandrell returns to Chattanooga on Thursday, April 7 to speak at Praise! breakfast hosted by Scenic City Women’s Network, an organization designed to encourage and equip working Christian women. There will be no doves released, but spirits can soar as Mandrell gives his testimony, sings and plays his violin.
“She’s a very genuine person with a God-given talent,” Pike said of the singer. “He really is a gifted person who can inspire people who hear him.”
Mandrell is the second brother of the trio of singing and dancing sisters who made their family a household name with their television variety show “Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters”, which aired from 1980 to 1982. Barbara, Louise and Irlene sang, danced, acted in comedy sketches and played a band’s worth of instruments each week. Each episode ended with a gospel segment.
Sister Barbara had already risen to fame in country music in the 1970s, and Louise said the TV show “was a huge opportunity for Irlene and me”.
She said the sisters no longer perform together, “but we talk almost every day. Both sisters are my prayer partners. Barbara was my sister, my mentor and a big influence on my Christian walk. I have her seen doing things that made me realize the impact fame can have.”
For example, she described a discussion that took place at the start of their variety show.
“The first week, the producers came in and said the network wanted to cut the gospel segment. Barb said, ‘Tell them we have a 12-week deal, and they’ll hear the gospel. After that, they can cancel us if they want.’
“She didn’t back down. But after the first week’s hearings, we never heard from them again about it. So every week we ended with the gospel,” Mandrell recalled.
A multi-talented singer and instrumentalist, Mandrell had several hits upon signing with RCA Records in the 1980s. “I Ain’t Done Loving You Yet”, “Maybe My Baby”, “Too Hot To Sleep” and “Save Me” all charted in the Top 10. She continued to perform in the 1990s, when she decided to spend more time with her family. She moved to East Tennessee to raise her teenage daughter and opened her own theater in Pigeon Forge, the first woman to do so. She wowed packed houses not only with her singing and dancing, but also with her ability to play up to 13 instruments in a two-hour show.
“I was entertaining at night to packed houses. I was inviting every audience to our Sunday morning services at the theater, and I would be shocked at how many people showed up,” she said.
While residing in Pigeon Forge, she became involved in volunteering for charities such as United Way, American Cancer Society and Boy Scouts of America. In 2005, she closed her theater and moved to Nashville with her husband.
This story and others about her childhood, her sisters and the “miracles that have brought us to where we are today” will be part of her testimony in Praise. She said she didn’t accept many speaking engagements and those she did were only reserved when she could share her testimony.
“Unless it’s oriented towards Christianity, I don’t. I love giving my testimony.
Over breakfast, Scenic City Women’s Network will present its Lydia Award to two winners, Liane Brown and Flo Samuels, a first tie for the prestigious award, according to Renee Nail, the organization’s executive director.
“Liane, as a survivor of Russian occupation and the Nazis, is an incredible story of courage under fire while living her faith in such terrible and unfathomable circumstances,” she said in a press release. . “Flo’s radical story of salvation after growing up in one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods is a story of faith in action, every day, every breath, every life.”
Both women, she said, are “fearless and staunch contenders for the faith.”
The reservation deadline is April 1.
Email Susan Pierce at email@example.com.