1981 CMA Awards Surprised With Iconic George Jones And Barbara Mandrell Duet

YouTube/John Jones

In 1981, Barbara Mandrell was at the height of her success. She could sing, she could act, and boy, was she beautiful! So much so, that Mac Davis could barely make it through introducing her at an awards show!

Walking out on the stage in a fringed pant-suit, Mandrell began singing her No. 1 hit “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool“. The audience was loving it!

The song featured George Jones, but he was not credited on the record charts. The song was released when the neocountry genre was gaining popularity. Neocountry was popularized by the John Travolta film Urban Cowboy and was a style of pop-country crossover.

“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” was written by Kyle Fleming and Dennis Morgan and released by Mandrell in April 1981 as the lead single from her album Barbara Mandrell Live

Mandrell sings about how country music is part of a long tradition and not some fad or trend. With lyrics like, “I still act and look the same/What you see ain’t nothing new/I was country when country wasn’t cool,” you knew she meant business!

About halfway through the performance, she asks the audience, “Are you out there George?

Jones starts singing from the audience, and eventually after some persuading by Mandrell, they meet in the front row to finish out the song together.

Watch their performance below!

Want to save this article?

Get this sent to your inbox, plus, get new articles & videos from us every week!

Sponsors / Partners

Interested in becoming a partner?

Contact us for more info

Unapologetically Country

Receive daily updates with the best country music videos, news, and more!