| By Deborah Evans Price, senior editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Posted: Mon, 01/03/2011 - 14:28
By Deborah Evans Price, senior editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Country music icon Loretta Lynn recently marked a prestigious milestone as she celebrated her 50th anniversary in music. Her first single, “Honky Tonk Girl” became a hit in 1960 after Lynn and her husband hit the road, traveling by car to radio stations throughout the country promoting the song. Those early radio visits and other moments in the Kentucky native’s rags to riches story were chronicled in 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which earned an Academy Award for actress Sissy Spacek in the title role.
Lynn’s anniversary was feted with a variety of events. She was honored during the Country Music Association Awards in November with a special segment, as Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow performed “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) honored Lynn with the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. In October, NARAS hosted a special evening saluting Lynn and her music at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, with performances by Gretchen Wilson, Kid Rock, Reba McEntire, Lee Ann Womack, Martina McBride and Garth Brooks.
Sony Nashville recently released Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn, an all-star project featuring a variety of rock and country acts covering Lynn’s classic tunes. The album includes Paramore on “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” Kid Rock delivering “I Know How,” Gretchen Wilson’s take on “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” Lucinda Williams’ “Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)” and Alan Jackson and Martina McBride’s remake of “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” one of Lynn’s hit duets with the late Conway Twitty. Crow and Lambert perform “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Lynn, issued as the album's first single.
“I love Loretta Lynn,” says McEntire. “I chose ’If You’re Not Gone Too Long’ because that’s a song I warm up with every night before a concert. The band and crew know I’m fixin’ to go on stage when they hear me sing ‘Gonna wipe these teardrops from my eyes.’”
The tribute album also features the White Stripes covering “Rated X.”
“She’s the greatest female singer/songwriter of the 20th century,” says Jack White, who produced Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album, which won a GRAMMY for Country Album of the Year in 2005. “Every word she writes is from the heart and she means it.”
To celebrate the album’s release, Sony presented Lynn with her very own rose. The first “Loretta Lynn Van Lear” rose plants will be delivered to Lynn’s ranch in Waverly, Tenn. next spring. “Roses have always been so special to me. I’ve loved them since I was a girl,” Lynn said of the honor. “So to have a rose named after one of my albums...well, I’m not sure I quite have the words for that! I’m just very, very honored. I can’t wait to have those Van Lear roses blooming in my yard!”
She’s even more excited about the performances on Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn.
“All the artists have done things with the songs that I didn’t do and I love it,” Lynn says of the project.
Lynn has long been a pioneer in the country format whose success and recognition has crossed genres and made her an American icon and national treasure. She was the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards in 1972.
“That probably really meant the most to me. That was a big year for me,” says Lynn, noting that she really didn’t think she’d win the award, “because a girl getting it [was] pretty unheard of.”
Over the years, she’s refused to let fame and accolades change her down-to-earth attitude. “I look at the awards like they are somebody else’s. That way you can stay grounded,” she says. “I’m proud of my awards, but I think to stay grounded, you don’t want to forget where you come from. All I do is close my eyes and I go back to that one room cabin where I lived 'til I was 11.”
As a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Lynn is well -known for such outspoken songs as “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “The Pill,” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).” Her songs championed everyday women and were at the forefront of the burgeoning women’s movement in the '70s.
“I didn’t know all that stuff,” Lynn modestly tells www.watchgmctv.com. “I just wrote songs the way that I’d been living and the way my old man treated me and come to find out, there were a lot of men doing the same thing.”
Lynn has been writing new songs and plans to go in the studio this year.
“Me and Merle Haggard plan to record when I can get out there,” she says of plans to collaborate in Haggard’s California studio. “He says he has a real good studio.”
She also still enjoys performing live and admits that touring today is much easier than when she started.
“Everything is great. I used to have to drive in a car night and day and then get up and do three or four 30-minute shows a night,” she says. “Now you get out and do one show and then you’re in your bus and asleep. It’s easier today.”
About the Writer
Deborah Evans Price has covered Christian/Gospel music for Billboard magazine since 1994. She also contributes regularly to CountryWeekly, CMA Close Up, Devo’Zine, Christian Single, HomeLife, BMI Music World, and other publications.
A Nashville resident since 1983, Deborah has held editorial posts at Radio & Records, Country News, American Songwriter and Billboard. Amy Grant, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, 3 Doors Down, Third Day, Don Henley, Bon Jovi, Chris Rice, Sandra Bullock, Mercy Me, Alan Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Steven Curtis Chapman are among her many interviews. Additionally, she's a sought-after music industry analyst who has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, TNN, The Today Show, and ABC PrimeTime Live, among other outlets.
Deborah is a member of the Gospel Music Association's board of directors and a graduate of Leadership Music. She resides south of Nashville with her husband, Gary, and son Trey.