Country music icon Loretta Lynn – who opened up the genre for generations of women – has died, according to her family in a public statement.
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said. Lynn was 90 years old.
It's not an understatement to say Lynn's efforts in the country music genre were trailblazing. As she recounted on her 1970 song “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn grew up in rural Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Born in 1932, she was the second of eight children and music played a foundational part in Lynn's childhood. Her father played the banjo, while her mother played the guitar – largely playing the songs of the Carter Family.
In 1948, Lynn was married at 15 to Oliver “Doo” Lynn, who later encouraged her to start performing after she began songwriting and playing the guitar. Lynn signed her first recording contract in 1960 and made the charts with her single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.”
That same year, Lynn made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 1960s and 70s, she found success with singles like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Rated X,” and “You’re Looking at Country.” She became known for appearing in floor-length, wide gowns with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones.
Her contributions to country music broke ground for female artists across the board and won her the first Country Music Award for a female vocalist in 1967. Several of her songs were pointedly sung from a woman’s perspective – covering topics like birth control and divorce, which got her banned from some country radio stations. But that didn't stop her from making strides. In 1972, she was the first woman awarded the CMA for Entertainer of the Year. Later, in 1988, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Lynn's influence transcends the country genre though: She was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2003, earned a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2010, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Lynn's 1976 memoir Coal Miner’s Daughter was made into a 1980 movie of the same name, earning a number of Oscar nominations and wins. In total, Lynn released 50 studio albums, concluding with 2021’s Still Woman Enough.
Widowed since 1996, Lynn is survived by four children – Clara, Ernest, and twins Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen.
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