Loretta Lynn, who sang of working-class women and was the first female country singer to win the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year award, died on Tuesday. She was 90.
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning ... in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” Lynn’s family said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that a memorial will be announced later.
Loretta Lynn, a trailblazing country star
Born and raised in Kentucky, Lynn’s music reflected the pride she had in her rural upbringing. The 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — starring Sissy Spacek as Lynn —chronicled her remarkable journey from being raised in poverty and married at 15 to becoming one of the most influential country music stars. She already had four children by the time she reached stardom in the 1960s, per The Associated Press.
“She was the groundbreaking female singer-songwriter in country music,” “Finding Her Voice” co-author Robert Oermann previously told The Washington Post. “Her songs were delivered from a distinctly female point of view, and that had not been done before, not the way she did it. Writing about women as they really lived — that was a breakthrough.”
“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn, who wrote hits like “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “Fist City,” told The Associated Press in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”
In total, Lynn had 51 songs become top 10 country hits on the Billboard charts, according to NPR. In 1972, she became the first woman to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, and in 1988, she became a Country Music Hall of Famer. In 2010, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and three years later, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, per CNN.
Lynn’s influence is multigenerational: In 2004, she recorded a duet of her song “Portland Oregon” with rock singer-songwriter Jack White of The White Stripes. White produced her 2004 album “Van Lear Rose, which won two Grammy Awards, according to The New York Times.
A 2010 tribute album to Lynn features White, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock and Lucinda Williams. “Still Woman Enough” — Lynn’s final album released just last year — featured collaborations with country artists like Underwood, Tanya Tucker, Margo Price and Reba McEntire, according to Variety.
John Carter Cash, who produced Lynn’s final recordings, succinctly summed up the power of Lynn’s voice: “She’s louder than most, and she’s gonna sing higher than you think she will,” he said, per The New York Times.
“With Loretta you just turn on the mic, stand back and hold on.”
Tributes to Loretta Lynn
Tributes to the trailblazing singer-songwriter started flooding social media shortly after her death. Below are some of the many tributes.
Country superstar Dolly Parton said she was one of Lynn’s “millions of fans.”
“So sorry to hear about my sister, friend Loretta,” Parton wrote in a statement. “We’ve been like sisters all the years we’ve been in Nashville and she was a wonderful human being, wonderful talent, and had millions of fans and I’m one of them. I miss her dearly as we all will. May she rest in peace.”
“Loretta Lynn paved the way for so many of us women in country music,” singer LeAnn Rimes, shared on Twitter. “What a legacy she leaves behind.”
Loretta Lynn’s sister, country artist Crystal Gale, said “the world lost a legend.”
Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus recalled one of his “highest honors” of collaborating with Lynn.
“Celebrating the life of Loretta Lynn. One of my highest honors was being joined by her and George Jones on a song I wrote called ‘Country Music Has The Blues,’” he shared on Twitter. “She handed me this wonderful gift on that day.”
In a special tribute, Marie Osmond said Lynn was the reason she “fell in love with country music.”
“Goodbye to another dear friend, @lorettalynnofficial,” Osmond shared on Twitter. “She was the reason that I fell in love with #countrymusic. When I was 13, she said to me, ‘Never stop singing!’ Heaven definitely received a true angel in this ‘Honky Tonk Girl’!”
Goodbye to another dear friend, @lorettalynnofficial. She was the reason that I fell in love with #countrymusic. When I was 13, she said to me, “Never stop singing!” 🕊 Heaven definitely received a true angel in this “Honky Tonk Girl”! #RIP 💕 #icon #lorettalynn pic.twitter.com/4997t3gQCk— Marie Osmond (@marieosmond) October 4, 2022
In a lengthy post, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile shared how although she only met Lynn a few times and didn’t know her well, she saw how Lynn treated Carlile’s own musical heroes and friends, Wynonna Judd and Tanya Tucker.
She always had time for Tanya and Wynonna. She always had a kind word for them and wisdom like wildfire. I only got to meet Retty with Tanya a couple of times, but today, more than ever, I’m realizing that @LorettaLynn set an example for women in country music that can be felt throughout the ages.
She’ll never be gone as long as the ones she looked after continue to pay all her love and attention forward to the younger generations ... and I know they will. Thank you Loretta for treating my heroes so special and thank you Tanya and Wy for making me feel the way she made you feel. I’m sorry you lost your incredible friend.
It occurred to me today, as I was contemplating the loss of our dear and powerful Loretta Lynn, that when she was a younger woman and already a legend, she treated these two women land many more) the way they now treat me... pic.twitter.com/nJONnww7GW— Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) October 5, 2022