Loretta Lynn, a person who has made country music what it is today. Thanks to her sweet voice and amazing talent, she has become a country music icon. This woman has inspired several singers, songwriters, and other artists. Though she does not own a few of the biggest hit song titles in the genre like Conway Twitty or Tammy Wynette, she is still considered one of its most influential figures.
A General Glance At An Amazing Singer.
Loretta Lynn, born April 14, 1932, was an American singer-songwriter and one of the most successful country artists of all time. Her success spanned six decades, and her music vaulted her to international fame. She had hits such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”, “One’s on the Way”, “Fist City”, and “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. The film Coal Miner’s Daughter, which was released in 1980, was made based on her life.
For her trailblazing work in country music, Loretta Lynn received multiple honors and awards, including recognition from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music as a duet partner and a solo performer. She had 18 Grammy Award nominations, and she took home three of them. She was the only female ACM Artist of the Decade (1970s) and the most awarded female country recording artist as of 2022. Eleven number one albums and 24 No. 1 singles were both achieved by Lynn. Following a stroke in 2017 and a hip fracture in 2018, she put a stop to 57 years of touring.
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Taking the First Steps.
On April 14, 1932, Loretta Webb (the birth name of Loretta Lynn) was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. She was the second child and oldest daughter of Melvin Theodore “Ted” Webb (June 6, 1906 – February 22, 1959) and Clara Marie “Clary” (May 5, 1912 – November 24, 1981). Ted worked as a farmer and coal miner. Although they are not recognized by other members of a tribe, the family claims Cherokee ancestry. She was given the name after the actress Loretta Young.
On January 10, 1948, 15-year-old Loretta Webb married Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn (August 27, 1926 – August 22, 1996). The couple met only a month earlier. The Lynns moved to the logging community of Custer, Washington when Loretta was seven months pregnant with their first child.
Loretta Lynn’s early years of marriage would inspire her to write songs. In 1953, Doolittle bought her a $17 Harmony guitar (equivalent to $172 in 2021). She taught herself to play the instrument and over the following three years worked on improving her guitar playing.
With the encouragement of her husband, she started her own band, Loretta and the Trailblazers, with her brother Jay Lee playing lead guitar. She often performed at Bob’s Tavern in Blaine, Washington and the Delta Grange Hall in Custer, Washington with Pen Brothers’ band and fellow musicians Westerners. Her first record was released in 1960 called “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”.
About Her Career.
1960-1966: Early Success.
Lynn Webb began singing in clubs in the late 1950s. She later formed her own band, the Trailblazers. Loretta Lynn won a wristwatch in a televised talent contest in Tacoma, Washington, hosted by Buck Owens. After seeing Lynn’s performance, Canadian Norm Burley of Zero Records co-founded the record company.
Four of Loretta Lynn’s compositions, including “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” “Whispering Sea,” “Heartache Meet Mister Blues,” and “New Rainbow,” were recorded during a recording session in Hollywood that was set up by Canadian Don Grashey, president of Zero Records. The songs “Whispering Sea” and “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” were included in her debut album.
On February 2nd, 1960, Loretta Lynn signed her very first contract with Zero. Don Blake was the engineer and Don Grashey was the producer when she recorded her album at United Western Recorders in Hollywood. Steel guitarist Speedy West, fiddler Harold Hensley, guitarist Roy Lanham, bassist Al Williams, and drummer Muddy Berry all contributed to the songs. Lynn said on the distinctive sound of her debut album: ” Well, there is a West Coast sound that is definitely not the same as the Nashville sound […] It was a shuffle with a West Coast beat”.
While Grashey and Del Roy brought the music to KFOX in Long Beach, California, The Lynns traveled the nation to promote the release to country stations. The song was a hit when the Lynns arrived in Nashville and reached No. 14 on Billboard’s Country and Western chart.
Loretta Lynn then started making demo tracks for the Wilburn Brothers Publishing Company. She was able to sign a contract with Decca Records thanks to the Wilburns. In November 1960, the first Loretta Lynn fan club was established. By year’s end, Billboard magazine ranked Lynn as the No. 4 Most Promising Country Female Artist.
The Wilburn Brothers and Loretta Lynn’s appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, which began in 1960, helped Lynn rise to the top of the female recording artist charts for country music. The Wilburn Brothers received the publishing rights to her work as part of their agreement with her. She fought them for 30 years in vain to reclaim the publishing rights to her songs. Due to the contracts, she ceased writing music in the 1970s. The Grand Ole Opry welcomed Lynn on September 25, 1962.
Patsy Cline was Loretta Lynn’s dearest friend and mentor during her formative years in music, according to Lynn. Later, in 2010, when interviewed for Jimmy McDonough’s biography of Tammy Wynette, Lynn said of having best friends in Patsy and Tammy during separate times: “Best friends are like husbands. You only need one at a time.”
1966’s “Dear Uncle Sam,” Loretta Lynn’s first original song to chart in the Top 10, was one of the first to detail the human casualties of the Vietnam War. She became the first female recording artist from the country genre to have a No. 1 hit success with her 1966 single “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”.
1967-1980: Continues With Extraordinary Success.
Do not Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), one of the first albums by a female country artist to sell 500,000 copies, was Loretta Lynn’s No. 1 hit in 1967.
Fist City, Loretta Lynn’s subsequent album, was released in 1968. The album’s lead song, “What Kind of a Girl (Do You Think I Am),” peaked in the top ten that year, while the title track went on to become Lynn’s second No. 1 hit. In 1968, her next studio album, Your Squaw Is on the Warpath, generated two Top 5 Country songs, including the title track and “You’ve Just Stepped In (From Stepping Out on Me)”.
Lynn’s third number-one song in 1969 was “Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone),” which was followed by another Top 10 hit called “To Make a Man (Feel Like a Man).” “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” one of her most well-known songs of all time, became an instant hit.
After the success of her autobiographical hit song “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart in 1970, her career continued to flourish into the 1970s. Her debut single peaked at No. 83 on the Billboard Hot 100. Between 1970 and 1975, she had a string of singles that peaked low on the Hot 100 list. Later, the inspiration for her best-selling autobiography (1976) and the Oscar-winning film, both of which share the song’s title, came from the song “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
One of Loretta Lynn’s most contentious singles, “Rated “X”” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart in 1973. Her next single, “Love Is the Foundation,” from her album of the same name the year after, likewise achieved No. 1 status in the country music charts. “Hey Loretta”, the second and final single from that album, reached the Top 5.
Till the end of the decade, Loretta Lynn had a string of Top 10 hits, including 1975’s “The Pill,” one of the earliest songs to address birth control. Since many of her songs were autobiographical, Loretta Lynn believed that no subject should be off-limits for songwriters as long as it was relatable to women. With the assistance of author George Vecsey, she published her autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, in 1976. Lynn became the first country music performer to appear on The New York Times Best Seller list when it became the No. 1 bestseller.
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A Professional Relationship With Conway Twitty.
Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn entered a business partnership in 1971. Between 1971 and 1975, Lynn and Twitty had five straight No. 1 singles as a pair, including “After the Fire Is Gone” (1971), for which they received a Grammy, “Lead Me On,” “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” “As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone,” and “Feelins'” (1974).
The Country Music Association honored Loretta Lynn and Twitty as the “Vocal Duo of the Year” for four straight years, from 1972 to 1975. In 1971, 1974, 1975, and 1976, the Academy of Country Music named them the “Best Vocal Duet.” In 1975, 1976, and 1977, the American Music Awards named them “Favorite Country Duo.” Every year from 1971 to 1981, inclusive, the Music City News readers who participated in the fan voting selected them as the top duo. Between 1976 and 1981, they had seven other Top 10 hits in addition to their five No. 1 singles.
A Tribute Album To Patsy Cline.
Patsy Cline, a musician Loretta Lynn knew, died in a plane crash in 1963. She recorded the album I Remember Patsy dedicated to her best friend in 1977. Some of Cline’s biggest hits were covered on the CD. “She’s Got You” and “Why Can’t He Be You,” the two singles she released from the album, both went on to become hits. Cline’s 1962 No. 1 song “She’s Got You” was topped by Lynn the following year. “Why Can’t He Be You” peaked at position seven. In 1978, her song “Out of My Head and Back in My Bed” became her final No. 1 hit.
Dealing with Women’s issues.
With themes concerning philandering husbands and persistent mistresses, Loretta Lynn concentrated on women’s difficulties. Her marital problems served as inspiration for her songwriting. By singing about birth control (“The Pill”), multiple pregnancies (“One’s on the Way”), gender inequality (“Rated ‘X'”) and being widowed by the draft during the Vietnam War (“Dear Uncle Sam”), she pushed the boundaries of the traditional country music genre. Despite nine of her songs being outlawed and country music radio stations frequently refusing to play her music, Loretta Lynn persisted in becoming one of the genre’s famous performers.
Coal Miner’s Daughter, her best-selling autobiography from 1976, was turned into an Academy Award-winning film in 1980 starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. For her portrayal of Loretta Lynn, Spacek received the Best Actress Academy Award. Jack White, an alternative rock artist, produced Lynn’s 2004 album Van Lear Rose. Five Grammy awards went to Lynn and White; they took home two of them.
Loretta Lynn is the recipient of many accolades in American and country music. She was admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008. At the 2010 Country Music Awards, she received recognition. In 2013, President Barack Obama gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. On September 25, 1962, Lynn became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut on October 15, 1960. A tribute album, fifteen compilation albums, and fifty-four studio albums are among Lynn’s 70 albums.
1980-1989: Into Movie Industry.
The movie Coal Miner’s Daughter made its public debut on March 5, 1980, in Nashville, and quickly rose to the top of the box office in the country. The movie received seven Academy Award nominations, with Spacek taking home the Best Actress Oscar. It also garnered many Golden Globe nominations, a gold album for the soundtrack album, a Grammy nomination for Spacek, and prizes from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music.
More hits were released in the 1980s, such as “Somebody Led Me Away,” “Naked in the Rain,” and “Pregnant Again.” “I Lie,” released by Lynn as a soloist in 1982, was her last Top 10 single, while her subsequent albums continued to chart well into the 1990s.
“Heart Don’t Do This to Me” (1985), one of her final solo albums, was her last Top 20 single and peaked at No. 19. Her album Just a Woman from 1985 produced a Top 40 success. Loretta Lynn contributed her vocals to the 1987 song “Honky Tonk Angels Medley” on the k.d. lang album Shadowland, which also included Brenda Lee and Kitty Wells. The four women received Grammy nominations for the record, which was gold certified. Before leaving MCA in 1989, Loretta Lynn released one more solo album in 1988 called Who Was That Stranger. In 1988, she was admitted to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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1990-2004: Comeback and second autobiography.
In 1993, Loretta Lynn made a comeback to the spotlight with the release of the trio album Honky Tonk Angels, which she co-wrote with Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. The album charted a single with “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” and reached its highest position on the Billboard Country charts at No. 6 and the Billboard Pop charts at No. 42.
The album received gold certification in the US and Canada after selling more than 800,000 copies. The group received nominations from the Country Music Association and the Grammys. On MCA Records, Lynn issued a three-CD boxed set tracing her career. She recorded Loretta Lynn & Friends, a seven-week television series for the Nashville Network (TNN), in 1995.
The Pioneer Award was given to Loretta in 1995 at the 30th Academy of Country Music Awards. Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn, Lynn’s husband, passed away five days before his 70th birthday in 1996. Still Country, Lynn’s first album in several years, was released in 2000. It featured “I Can’t Hear the Music,” a song written in memory of her late husband. “Country in My Genes,” the album’s lead single and her first new song in more than a decade, was released. Lynn became the first female in country music to have a single chart after fifty years when it appeared on the Billboard Country singles list.
Still Woman Enough, the second autobiography Loretta Lynn published in 2002, peaked in the top ten of the New York Times Bestseller. She released the cookbook You’re Cookin’ It Country in 2004.
2004-2022: Late Resurgence.
The second album that Loretta Lynn wrote every song on was Van Lear Rose, which was released in 2004. Jack White of The White Stripes produced the record, which included guitar playing and backing vocals by White. In publications like Spin and Blender that focus on both mainstream and alternative rock music, Lynn received high appreciation for her work with White. The album was ranked as the second-best of 2004 by Rolling Stone. It received the Grammy Award for the year’s best country album.
Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn, a new album from Sony Music, was published before the end of 2010. With Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow, Lynn collaborated on the album’s lead song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which peaked at number 10 on Great American Country. Lynn became the only female country artist to chart in the past 60 years when her song debuted on the Billboard singles chart.
In May 2010, Lynn gave a performance at the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio. On June 11, 2011, Lynn also gave a performance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Honky Tonk Girl: My Life in Lyrics, Lynn’s third autobiography, was released in 2012. Divided & United: Songs of the Civil War, which was published on November 5, 2013, included her song “Take Your Gun and Go, John.”
Full Circle, a CD that would include Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello, was announced by Lynn in November 2015 for March 2016. The album, which debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 200, became Lynn’s 40th to reach the Top 10 of Billboard’s best-selling country albums chart. The album has duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello, as well as a mix of new and vintage songs. White Christmas Blue, Lynn’s holiday album, was released in October 2016. Full Circle received a nomination for Country Album of the Year at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in December of the same year.
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The third album of Lynn’s five-record contract with Legacy Recordings, Wouldn’t It Be Great, was finally released in September 2018 after being delayed by health difficulties. Lynn had to postpone the entire 2017 tour due to her health.
2018 saw Lynn honored by CMT as an Artist of a Lifetime. The eagerly anticipated Patsy & Loretta, which focused on the friendship between Lynn Aiken and Patsy Cline, premiered on Lifetime on October 19, 2019. Lynn was there for the movie’s premiere in Nashville. The fourth album under her contract with Legacy, Lynn’s 50th studio album Still Woman Enough, was released on March 19, 2021. (and to come from the cash cabin recording sessions). Along with original songs and duets with Tanya Tucker and Margo Price on re-recordings of “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “One’s on the Way,” it includes Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire on the title track.