Nestled in the hills of Normandy sits the tiny Ole Tennessee Opry. Across from the railroad tracks on the downtown historic square, the building has hosted several big names in country music. Its rustic appearance stays true to the early 20th century architecture popular in the 1900s when it was built.

This event venue has seen several remarkable performances in its day. Renowned country stars, such as Jamey Johnson and the Waylon Outlaws, have made an appearance at the small performance hall in years past.

On Dec. 9, the Old Tennessee Opry is putting on a show for a bigger cause.

The Old Tennessee Opry is presenting a Christmas show called “This Time of Year” that will feature performer Mandy Barnett.

“This is a fundraiser for the Nikki Mitchell Pancreatic Cancer Foundation,” said event coordinator Diane Kuzina. “We’re raising awareness for the cause all while helping patients and their families. We want everyone to come join us for this great night of entertainment for a great cause.”

All proceeds will benefit the Nikki Mitchell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps pancreatic cancer patients manage health care and everyday living expenses.

 

Mandy Barnett

Mandy Barnett is a singer and performer who has been entertaining for as long as she can remember. Barnett’s vocal style pairs beautifully with classic country and pop.

Hailing from Crossville, Barnett first drew attention for her talents as a teenager during her role as Patsy Cline in the performance of “Always… Patsy Cline,” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

“I’ve heard so many great things about the Ole Tennessee Opry,” said Barnett. “It’s a historic and beautiful building, and I’ve heard that the acoustics sound amazing. I’m really, really excited for the event. I’m bringing a fantastic band down from Nashville, and we’re going to have an awesome time. There’s going to be good food and good music for a great cause.”

Barnett said she was excited to be supporting a cause like the Nikki Mitchell Foundation.

“I didn’t personally know Nikki, but I’ve heard great things about her,” the singer said. “I know her foundation helps a great amount of people and I’m so proud to be a part of a show that helps so many.”

Barnett has traveled the globe showcasing her talents as a singer. She has produced many albums, toured nationally and internationally, appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and she has been a frequent quest at the Grand Ole Opry.

She has also been featured on many movie soundtracks, including “A Walk on the Moon,” “Traveler,” “Space Cowboys,” “Election,” Drop Dead Gorgeous” and “Crazy.” Barnett has even been featured on the SpongeBob SquarePants album, “The Best Day Ever.”

During the show, fans can expect to dine in a vintage, but elegant, setting with food provided by Julie Cobb’s Southern Spoon Catering and Rustic Catering by Neal Gordon and Dee McCullough.

After dinner, Barnett will perform a set list that includes some of country and pop’s greatest classic hits and some Christmas favorites.

Dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. tonight, and the show will start directly after and run until 10 p.m. Tickets are required for the dinner and show. Show-only tickets can be purchased at the door for $35. To purchase dinner and show tickets, visit www.universe.com/mandybarnett. The Old Tennessee Opry is located at 4 Front St. in Normandy.

 

Nikki Mitchell Foundation

According to the Nikki Mitchell Foundation website, Mitchell was a Texas native. She spent many years building successful artistic ventures down in the Lone Star State.

When bigger dreams came calling, Mitchell moved to Nashville to manage the enterprises of the outlaw country star Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. She served as the president of their company for 22 years.

During the time she was managing music, Mitchell was also making history with her own Bridge of Wings flight.

Mitchell took a flight around the world in a single engine aircraft as a co-captain in 1998. While flying through Russia, Mitchell unified two countries by flying in a side-by-side formation with two Russian women to retrace the historical 1938 Flight of the Rodina. The flight served to honor heroic Soviet female piolets that time had forgotten.

According to the Bridge of Wings website, The Flight of the Rodina was a flight crew of the three Soviet women – Valentina Grizodubova, Polina Osipenko and Marina Raskova. The mission was to connect Moscow to the farther corners of Soviet Union. After extreme turbulence and clouds forced the women to flight at a higher altitude for a full day and through the night, the women found themselves not being able to easily locate their position. As time and fuel were running out, the women threw all their expendables out of the plane to make it lighter. Knowing that they would soon crash, one of the pilots bailed to help the others find a safe place to land, and she promised to find the aircraft on foot. The women survived for more than 10 days in the wilderness before they were rescued and taken to a nearby village.

Altogether the “Rodina” had flown 3,672 miles in 26 hours and 29 minutes. This was a new record for an all-woman flight crew, and the women were celebrated as heroes for the Soviet Union.

While Mitchell was more than busy managing musicians and honoring history, she also owned and ran a weekend café down on the square in Normandy. Mitchell was the previous owner of The Ole Tennessee Opry, and this is the very same building in which tonight’s dinner and show will be held.

In 2010, Mitchell was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She battled the disease for 31 months. In July 2013, Mitchell she died with one last dream on her list: to save others from the devastating disease of pancreatic cancer.

Because Mitchell cared so much about helping others, her family and friends formed the foundation in her name and memory.

Currently, the foundation helps over 40 pancreatic cancer families and patients. The funds from the foundation go towards medical bills, groceries and overall living expenses of pancreatic cancer patients.

For more information on the Nikki Mitchell Foundation, visit www.nikkimitchellfoundation.org. For more information on The Old Tennessee Opry, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theoldtennesseeopry. To read more about Mandy Barnett, visit her website at www.mandybarnett.com.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.