Country Throwback: Watch Reba McEntire and George Jones Perform Barbara Mandrell Tribute in 2009

by Matthew Wilson

Reba McEntire and George Jones were country before country was cool. The duo paid tribute to Barbara Mandrell back in 2009.

After a 38 year career in the music industry, Mandrell joined the country music greats in the pantheons of history. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jones and McEntire took the stage during the induction to celebrate Mandrell’s long career. They performed a moving rendition of her most famous hit “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”

McEntire started the tune before Jones emerged from the shadows of the stage singing a verse. Jones had all the elegance and aged wisdom of a country music master. And McEntire was as good as she ever is. Together, the two finished the song together with a hug. It was one of the rare times in their careers that the two artists performed together.

Their performance got the crowd on their feet and the admiration of a smiling Mandrell.

Reba McEntire Thanked Barbara Mandrell

Reba McEntire also took the moment on stage to thank her for her contribution to country music and the wisdom she’s shared over the years. Mandrell got her musical start early in life. By age 10, she was already musically literate and proficient in several instruments. Her skills with a steel guitar earned Mandrell the nickname the Sweetheart of the Steel. Over the course of her career, Mandrell has won two Grammy Awards, four CMA Awards, seven AMA Awards, and four ACM Awards.  

McEntire thanked Mandrell for being a positive influence in her life.

“I thank you for the things that you’ve taught me, not only musically, but spiritually,” McEntire said. “And I will always treasure our relationship with all my heart.”

Mandrell and McEntire actually performed the song together as a duet previously while at the Grand Ole Opry. Mandrell released the tune in 1981. Upon release, it became a smash hit.