Member Since 1962
Had Loretta Lynn never sung, “When you’re lookin’ at me, you’re lookin’ at country,” the sentiment would still be true. For people all over the world, for more than 40 years now, Loretta Lynn has defined country music.
Her Butcher Holler, Kentucky, raising, motherhood, and early marriage to the late Mooney “Doolittle” Lynn has provided much material for her writing, of course. “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” as autobiographical song, celebrated book, and Oscar-winning movie, made Loretta a household name.
But she’s never been an Appalachian, “Eastern” singer. Loretta headed towards Nashville from her long-time home in Washington state, where “Doo” had supported her first stab at country stardom. She brought the more Western honky-tonk style with her—a style in which she’s second to none as a singer. She was first noticed and supported by Patsy Cline and the Wilburn Brothers, but it was Texan Ernest Tubb who’d be an early partner and first introduce her on the Opry in 1960, in what Loretta has called “the best moment of her life.”
Loretta’s “sing it as she feels it” vocal style—sometimes exuberant, often soulful, usually feisty— has been the perfect match for her groundbreaking, straight-talking songs of life as she—and we—know it, from “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” to “The Pill,” from “One’s on the Way,” to “Love Is the Foundation.” Often writing about topics nobody’s raised before and nailed them, she’s universally recognized as one of country music’s greatest and most influential songwriters.
From the time of her first single, “Honky Tonk Girl” on little Zero Records in 1960, Loretta ruled the country charts for decades, mainly recording at Decca records with her producer and mentor Owen Bradley. She’s had some 60 hits as a solo artist—most of them self-penned, of course—and that’s not even counting 18 more that were unforgettable duets with Ernest Tubb, then Conway Twitty.
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, Loretta also was the first woman to win the coveted Entertainer of the Year Award of the Country Music Association. She then went on to win Entertainer of the Year from the Academy of Country Music as well. Record by record, she has, in fact, won dozens of awards, including more recently the Best Country Album Grammy, and the Americana Music Association Album and Artist of the Year awards for 2004’s Van Lear Rose album, and the Johnny Cash Visionary Award from CMT. To add to her many honors Loretta was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008.
In recent years, Loretta has run her hotel and tourist attraction at Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, toured regularly, and always returned to perform at the Opry.
Van Lear Rose