Loretta Lynn, the country music pioneer who introduced unmatched candor about the domestic realities of working-class women to country songwriting and taught others to speak their thoughts, died at her Tennessee home today. She was aged 90 years.
“This morning, our dear mother Loretta Lynn passed away quietly in her sleep at home on her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” her family stated in a statement.
Legendary Country Music Singer Loretta Lynn Dies At 90!
Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement, “Loretta Lynn’s life story is unlike any other, yet she created a body of work that resonates with people who may never fully comprehend her bleak and remote childhood, her hardscrabble early days, or her adventures as a famous and beloved celebrity.” “In a music industry generally preoccupied with aspiration and fantasy, Loretta persisted on revealing her own bold and courageous truth.”
Born Loretta Webb, the vocalist was raised in an isolated coal-mining hamlet in the eastern Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” one of her most popular songs, proudly described her background.
Lynn was just a teenager when she started a family with Oliver Lynn, often known as “Mooney” or “Doolittle,” a 21-year-old former soldier. They had the first four of their six children quickly and then moved to Washington state. There, her spouse heard her singing bedtime lullabies and encouraged her to begin performing publicly. She stated in a 2010 interview with Fresh Air that she wouldn’t have done it any other way “I would not speak in front of others. I was quite shy and would never have sung in front of anyone.”
Robert Oermann, a country music historian and journalist, asserts that Lynn taught herself to compose songs once her husband began securing paying concerts for her.
She obtained a copy of Country Song Roundup, according to Oermann, a publication that published country song lyrics and details about the singers. “She would read country song lyrics in a magazine and exclaim, “That’s nothing.” I can accomplish that. And she had been able to do so.”
Lynn and her husband would drive to radio stations, where she would attempt to persuade the DJs to play her album. When the couple moved to Nashville in 1960, Lynn’s efforts had begun to garner attention.
Lynn’s mentors, Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline were experiencing a great deal of success with a lush, pop-flavored production style known as the Nashville Sound. Lynn collaborated with Owen Bradley, Cline’s producer, but maintained her undiluted twang.
Lynn was unafraid to describe the indignities she faced in her marriage, as well as the double standards she observed other women experiencing when it came to divorce, pregnancy, and birth control.
Traditionally, country songs had portrayed hardship from the male perspective. She discovered that Nashville was not accustomed to such candor.
Angaleena Presley, a songwriter from eastern Kentucky, was reared on her mother’s Loretta Lynn albums and understands what they must have meant to women of prior generations.
“I’m certain that there were a great number of women in that era, particularly in rural areas, who believed, ‘I’m not permitted to say anything if my husband wants to drink. He is busy all day. He is entitled to drink at night, return home, and do what he pleases. And I’ll clean the house and take care of the children. And [Lynn] answered, ‘Nope. It’s not acceptable, and it’s acceptable for you to say so.'”
Lynn’s perspective, according to Presley, “contributed significantly to the feminist movement, particularly in rural America.” “I feel as if she was the voice,” adds Presley, “even if she never came out as a feminist explicitly, her songs certainly were.”
No less than 51 of these songs reached the top ten of the country Billboard charts.
Lynn was given the first female Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1972. Later, in 1988 and 2008, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, respectively.
In 2003, she was received the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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Despite their tumultuous relationship, Lynn and Doolittle stayed married until his death in 1996. Lynn assured her followers that her long-standing musical connection with Conway Twitty was strictly professional. Lynn kept performing and recording into the new millennium, her relationship with Jack White garnering younger fans.
Lynn’s ongoing appeal required, however, that she never lost touch with her identity as a simultaneously modern and down-to-earth country lady who could convey this to audiences throughout her career.
“This notion that even though I am on there performing this song, I am not superior to you. I am you, “journalist Oermann says. “Essentially, this is the message. This kind of humility is extremely effective and beneficial.”
This attitude has always impacted her songwriting; Lynn’s audacity is still evident in the music she left behind.
Lynn stated in 2004 to All Things Considered, “I enjoy real life because that’s what we do today.” “And I believe that is why people purchased my records, as they inhabit this world. And I am too. So I observe the situation and seize it.”