Irlene Mandrell on Her Love for God, Country, and Family

A Texas native, Irlene Mandrell is the youngest sister of the world famous country trio, The Mandrell Sisters.  Before becoming an entertainer, she and her sister Louise stayed with her aunt and uncle while her parents and sister Barbara travelled with the Mandrell Family Band.  The two girls decided they needed to develop their musical talent so they wouldn’t get left behind.  Irlene says drums were about the only thing the group still needed.  So at eleven, Irlene began drumming professionally for Barbara’s Do-Rite Band, first at military events in the US and then in Germany.  During the Vietnam War, the band booked shows in places that didn’t get USO entertainment.  Irlene’s father was a World War II veteran.

Although music has always been the Mandrell Sister’s mainstay, Irlene has also enjoyed a career as an actress, model, and performer.  Her first television series Barbara Mandrell and The Mandrell Sisters aired on NBC and also in the UK, with a viewing audience of 40 million.  The variety show featured good-humored interplay between Irlene and her sisters.   She regularly threw pies in people’s faces and especially loved the Thanksgiving skits with the Statler Brothers.  Irlene’s other television credits include guest appearances on The Love Boat and on a variety of game shows and talk shows including Hollywood Squares, The Match Game, The Tonight Show, This Week in Country Music, Oprah, and others.  Irlene starred in the country variety series Hee Haw for its last eight years during her acting career, as well.

In addition to stage and television appearances, Irlene has enjoyed success as a spokesperson, doing commercials for Swift Premium Sausage, Ford Trucks, Allied Home Medical, Harmony Guitars, etc.  She has done many magazine ads including Cover Girl and West Shoes. Irlene is a Country Music Walkway of Stars inductee. She has received many awards including two Comedy Act of the Year awards from Music City News.

As much as she’s loved working with her sisters, Irlene finds even greater joy performing with her children.  Her daughters, Vanessa and Christina, are gifted singers, dancers and actresses.  Her son Deric is a talented drummer and singer, as well.  Most recently, her three children were featured on her solo debut project, “Thanks to You.”  Produced by her husband Pat Holt and published by Reviver Records, this patriotic project honors America’s heroes.  “This album is dedicated to our military, our law enforcement, our first responders, and everyone who works tirelessly and puts their life on the line to keep us safe and free,” says Mandrell.  “You are our heroes, and we thank you for everything you do.”  

Irlene’s niece Christy Sutherland wrote the song “Somebody Died for Me” after reading about a US Army soldier who threw himself on a grenade to protect his friend in Iraq.  He’d always told this friend that somebody had died for him.  At his funeral, the soldier’s best friend finally understood that not only had his friend died for him through his military service, but that every time he’d said somebody had died for him, the fallen soldier had been referring to Jesus.

Irlene loves helping others.  For 14 years, she ran the Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot that benefited Wish Upon a Star and Boy Scouts of America.  She has also supported Easter Seals, Special Olympics, American Heart Association, Nashville Humane Society, and various charities for veterans.

Irlene was raised in a family that relied on God.  She says, “Even though I had always known that God was part of my life and I had a personal relationship with Him, I had an experience when I was really down one night.  I was alone and found myself getting very depressed.  I wanted to cry, but instead I found myself praying.  Then I realized instead of being upset, I had great peace, and I was focused on God.  I had given my life to God, but I had never verbally told him that before.  As I was praising God, I told him that I give Him my life, that I want to do what He wants me to do, and I want Him to have total control.    I felt my spirit floating around the room.  It was a wonderful feeling, one that I had never experienced before.”

Irlene and her sisters held hands and prayed before every performance.  And even though the network opposed it, Barbara insisted that they close every show with a gospel song.  To this day, Irlene’s faith in God is very important.  She says, “We pray knowing God’s going to answer.  You can’t pray any other way.”

One of Irlene’s favorite answers to prayer is the miraculous story about the birth of her sister, Barbara.  During delivery, a doctor said they couldn’t save her mother Mary Mandrell or Barbara’s life.  Her father, Irby Mandrell, started praying and immediately ran into a doctor that he’d served under in the military.  This doctor happened to be head of the staff at the hospital and ended up saving both Barbara and her mother’s life, with Irby’s assistance.  It’s a miracle the Mandrell family continues to thank God for, especially at Thanksgiving when Barbara prepares the extended family’s feast, staying up all night to get things just right.  

Irlene started keeping a journal of miracles and is currently working on a book called, “God Rains Miracles,” scheduled for release in early 2018.

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Part of the sister trio, The Mandrell Sisters who starred in Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters TV show

Latest project: Thanks To You, Reviver Records, 2017

Starred on Hee Haw the last 8 years, The Love Boat, The Match Game, The Tonight Show, Oprah, etc.

Has appeared in advertisements for Cover Girl, West Shoes, Ford Trucks, Swift Premium Sausage, etc.

Recipient of numerous awards including: Country Music Walkway of Stars inductee, twice won Comedy Act of the Year, Music City News awards, etc.

Husband: Pat Holt

Children: Vanessa, Christina, Deric


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