Born Amanda Carol Barnett, she was the only child of Betty and Dan Barnett (who worked respectively as a bookkeeper and contractor). Barnett began her musical career by singing in church at the age of five. Her mother encouraged her by booking singing engagements wherever people would listen: bowling alleys, VFW halls and political rallies (notably for Lamar Alexander and future Vice President Al Gore, Jr.). When there was no venue, she would perform in parking lots. By age nine, her father financed a professionally recorded gospel music album. The following summer, she had joined a summer theatre cast at Dollywood and shared the stage with Dolly Parton herself. It was during her two years at Dollywood that she won a talent contest that included making a demo in Nashville.
During the trip to Nashville, Betty Barnett worked to get her daughter a spot on Ernest Tubb Record Shop's Midnite Jamboree
radio show, which airs after the Grand Ole Opry program on WSM-AM. Opry star George Hamilton IV was also a guest on the program. She was soon signed by producer Jimmy Bowen. The then 12-year-old Barnett earned a lot of industry buzz after her debut on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, covering Patsy Cline's "Crazy."Bowen's career transitioned from label to label at the time. Each time, he took Barnett with him, and despite constant training and development funding, no album ever resulted. Barnett graduated from high school in 1993 and headed back to Nashville full-time to seek her fortune, though Capitol Records dropped her that December.As a teenager, Mandy starred as country music legend Patsy Cline in the stage show Always...Patsy Cline
at the celebrated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The performances were sold out nightly and received rave reviews across the country. Mandy, in role as Patsy appears on the Decca Records cast recording.She soon signed with Asylum Records where she released her first CD entitled Mandy Barnett
. The album received glowing reviews in major trade publications and magazines, including Playboy
, as well as praise from veteran country artists and fans.In due course, Seymour Stein heard Mandy's voice and was, he said, "spellbound". When Stein launched Sire Records within Warner Music Group, Mandy was the first artist he signed. Mandy's Sire Records project paired her with the undisputed pioneer of the Nashville Sound, producer Owen Bradley. The album I've Got A Right To Cry
, would be his final contribution to the community who knew him through his work with Ernest Tubb, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells. Owen died four songs into the project but not before leaving his unmistakable mark on the album. His brother and longtime partner, Harold Bradley, inherited the delicate task of finishing the album with Mandy. A legal pad filled with Owen's handwritten notes for each song guided the two through the rest of the sessions."I've Got A Right To Cry" was a huge critical success. Rolling Stone
magazine named the project the top country album of 1999. Other stellar reviews appeared in People
, and multiple national newspapers. Mandy appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman
and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
as a result of her acclaim.In addition to her own CDs she has been featured on a variety of movie soundtracks, including A Walk On The Moon
, Space Cowboys
, and Drop Dead Gorgeous
. She also sang on the SpongeBob SquarePants CD, The Best Day Ever
, released in late 2006.In 2009 she reprised her role as Patsy Cline in the smash musical Always...Patsy Cline
for a special 15-year anniversary performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium, returning to the role in June 2010 for a brief run at the Ryman Auditorium. She continues to play shows, both nationally and internationally, singing country classics and the American song book along with the Cline numbers that brought her to fame. She is a frequent guest on the Grand Ole Opry.