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90 years of Loretta Lin

Country stars join us in singing the praises of one of the most influential artists and songwriters of all time in its 90’s.

Loretta Lynn He is one country artist that everyone knows. You may have followed her career since her debut in 1960’s “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”. You probably learned all about her life growing up in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, through her autobiography Coal miner’s daughter Or the classic biographical movie based on it. you You may have noticed her musical collaborations with everyone from the late Conway Tweety to White Stripes leader Jack White.

It doesn’t matter how you know her, you know her. And chances are you love her. After selling over 45 million albums and maintaining her spot as the top country artist he’s earned, Lynn still looks as cute and friendly as she did when she was just starting out in the music business.

Photo: (left to right) Pictoral Press LTD / Alamy Stock Photo; David McClister / Courtesy Essential Broadcast Media. David McCallister

The legend reaches her 90th birthday on April 14, more than 80 years after hearing a tune on the radio for the first time at the age of 11 – to be precise, Ernst Taub’s “Walk on Earth Above You”. While the song and the experience made an immediate impact, Lynn has admitted in the past that making music for herself was never her idea.

For her 18th birthday, her husband, Oliver “Dolittle” Lane, bought her a $17 Harmony guitar from Sears. A few years later, he tells her that she has a good voice. “After a while, I got to where I could play a good tune on it. First, I would sing Kitty Wells songs on it, but after a while I started making my own,” she recalls in Pages Coal miner’s daughter. “Anything I go into, I do my best, because I only do what I want.”

By the time Lane was 28, it was time to take the stage and start playing her own songs for an audience beyond her husband and children. In 1960, when Lenz was living in Custer, Washington, they went to the Delta Grange Hall in Linden to listen to country music. She was eventually offered $5 to play there. When they asked her to repeat the show and paid her another $5, Lynn said, “I thought I was a millionaire.”

Now 62 years later, she’s probably still very grateful for the legendary career that brought them together, even though she’s never been one to flaunt her fortune. Her late manager David Schipner once said, “Loretta has no idea what she’s worth. All she knows is that she has a good time every day and gets paid well for it.”

For Lynn, all these years in country music weren’t just about making a living. She was a pioneer, whether she intended to or not. In 1962, she was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry just a few years after the debut of her first female solo artists Jean Shepard, Kitty Wells, Margie Bowes and Patsy Klein. Then a decade later, when she was nominated for Female Artist of the Year from the Country Music Union in 1972, the nomination alone made history. “I didn’t care if I won it. I was proud to be the first woman ever to run. I think it’s good for people to realize that a woman can do good things as well as a man,” Lynn said.

Real pure country music. it is easy. It’s real. When a song is unreal, how is it supposed to make anyone go through anything?

It won first prize that year and has been hoarding prizes ever since. She has won numerous CMA Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and even the ACM Poet Honors in 2021, a lesser known but still prestigious honor that goes to artists with longstanding lyrical contributions to country music. As Lynn herself said, “You can’t be halfway in this business.” And she didn’t.

Photo: Jimmy Ellis/USA Today

Part of what has continued to distinguish Lynn is her longevity in country music, and part of that comes from how she sees music. How she always saw it. “Real country music is pure. It’s easy. It’s real. When a song isn’t real, how are you supposed to make anyone go through anything? Country music will always bring you back,” says Country Music Hall of Famer.

“And you will always feel at home, no matter what.”


Carrie Underwood

As artists, we all stand on the shoulders of the great artists who came before us, but I think this is especially true of females in country music. Strong, talented, intelligent and impudent women like Loretta Lynn are responsible for any of us getting opportunities in the work we have today. I think we all sing in our hairbrushes trying to emulate the vocal styles of artists like Loretta. Getting to sing “Still Woman Enough” with her and Reba was a moment I’ll never forget. Music in Loretta’s soul. Her legacy will live on after all of us, and that’s so beautiful.”

Martina McBride

“For some people, country music is what they do. For Loretta, country music is who it is. As a kid on a farm in Kansas, I remember hearing “One’s on the Way,” and I thought it was so cool because it’s about Topeka. Nobody can sing those kinds of songs. They are like that. I was drawn to her authenticity, and how her voice is so honest. She seems to be having a conversation with you. I wanted to make music like that too. And she’s not going anywhere. When I see her, she’ll be like We need to go on tour together. You and I. We’ll tear it up. “

Tania Tucker

“When I was a kid, I used to sing ‘Your Squaw Is on the Warpath’, ‘Fist City’, ‘Sweet Thang’ and more. Loretta Lynn was such a huge influence to me. She’s the part of me when I was there singing in bars, trying to start, I sang all of her songs. Every single one of them. The song Blue Kentucky Girl was one of my favorites and I still do it on my shows. I started copying it and ended up looking like me. There’s nothing wrong with Loretta.”

Lee Ann Womack

“I sang a lot of her songs when I started as an artist; people always wanted to hear songs like ‘The Coal Mine’s Daughter’, Because I was very country. She is part of everything for a chick singer. I’ve always appreciated being able to hear from such a famous country singer who never tried to be cool or popular. it was amazing. And Loretta was just Loretta. You hear other singers – myself included – and sometimes they seem a little lost. It’s as if they don’t know phonetically where they are. But Loretta never went through with that because from her first song she recorded to her most recent, they sounded exactly the same. When she opens her mouth, Loretta comes out.”

Trisha Yearwood

“When I was a girl, I heard ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ and would sing it louder. Before there was karaoke, you could buy LPs that were basically tracks to sing along with your favorite songs. I was a little impersonator and was definitely influenced by Loretta’s voice. I tried Imitate her style and voice.Loretta came from extreme poverty. Her “job” saved her life and her family. I think she’s never forgotten where she came from, and I think that’s part of why she works so hard. She is respected and appreciated for being a pioneer in singing and songwriting, at a time when she didn’t get In it, women definitely have the same opportunities as men in the field. Loretta has already made history, but her work ethic keeps it going. She paved the way for every artist that followed. I’m here because she’s been there.”

Carly Pierce

“My first memories of Loretta were when I sat down with her album Blue Kentucky Girl when I was 12, and learned to play the ‘Blue Kentucky Girl’ guitar. We all grew up loving her and we all had different versions of why we bonded with her. It was so natural. For that.” Cause I can write stories from my life. She’s never tried to write in the margins or write songs inside a fence. I’m sure she got scrutinized in time for her lyrics. What that taught me is that you can be real, raw, and unapologetic. And there’s just something about Appalachian music If you grew up in Kentucky, you understand the richness of what that area brought to country music and bluegrass music. You can hear some of that sad singing in its music and tears in its voice. When I’m 90, even if no one listens, I’ll keep doing it Because who am I.”

Diana Carter

“Loretta had been dealing with life with her guitar before she started making music. Her sense of humor, her strength and the fact that she said things so honestly to me was a lot to me. She would never cut a guy so much as she would tackle the problem in the other person, and she would do it in an honest and personal way. Speaking your truth on this Grammar is something we share together. And what she was doing was very difficult at the time. She was singing about “The Pill” in that era when she never said the word “pregnant”. These were special things, but she said to them. She was very groundbreaking and she put The norm for a lot of females. And yet, she still shows up in sequins, ready to go, goes into the microphone ready to sing her songs and tell her stories authentically. This is so inspiring, and I’m thankful we have an artist like Loretta who never tries to be something she doesn’t.”


From our April 2022 issue

Find our expanded list of cherished Loretta Gems and listen to our playlist on Spotify.

Photo: (cover photo) Bill Preston/USA Today

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