Loretta Lynn, one of the singers who gave a feminine vision to country, has died this Tuesday at the age of 90 at her home in Tennessee, as confirmed by the artist’s family. Winner of three Grammy awards and considered one of the legends of the genre, Lynn achieved her greatest fame at the end of the sixties with Coal Miner’s Daughter (the miner’s daughter), one of her first songs, with hints of autobiographical The lyrics were later developed into a memoir that Hollywood adapted into a hit movie starring Sissy Spacek as Lynn and Tommy Lee Jones as her husband Oliver, whom she married at age 15.
“Our precious mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning in her sleep at her home on the Hurricane Mills ranch,” the family wrote in a statement. It was the end point of a career that began in 1964 with the album Loretta Lynn Sings and reached maximum stardom with a ballad in which a girl born in the Appalachian area of Kentucky admitted that she had never dreamed of leaving the mining community of Butcher Hollow. “We were poor, but we were loved / Daddy made sure of that / He shoveled coal to earn a meager dollar,” she sang on the title track of the album Coal Miner’s Daughter, released in 1971.
The song, which contained nine verses with no repeats, was rare for a woman in country, in this case a singer who already had fifteen albums on Decca and MCA in Nashville, the country’s capital of musicians. When Lynn showed it to her producer, Owen Bradley, he had some buts about her. “I was worried about how long it was and that it was a biographical song. But he loved that it was real. It was me and my story to tell,” the singer told the specialized publication Sounds Like Nashville.
Lynn was the second of eight children who grew up listening to the Carter family. Her father played the banjo and her mother the guitar. There is no doubt that the family had music in their veins. Her younger sister, Crystal Gale, is also a successful singer.
That hit has become a country classic. The lyrics were full of childhood memories of him, his parents and his life in his small town in Kentucky. That was the stamp that Lynn printed throughout her 41 studio albums, where she confirmed herself as one of her most interesting singers thanks to her lyrics about sex, unfaithful husbands, divorces, love and heartbreak. In The Pill, from 1975, she talked about the birth control pill. She cast as her character a woman who was fed up with getting pregnant all the time, for which she was thankful for birth control. Several conservative stations vetoed the song, which stalled the song at number five on the sales list; Lynn was used to seeing her compositions reach the top of the country chart since 1971.
Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Loretta Lynn at the White House on November 20, 2013. Sitting, applauding, Bill Clinton. Jason Reed (Reuters)
“It was what I wanted to hear and what many women also wanted to hear. I didn’t write for the men, although they liked my songs too,” Lynn told the Associated Press in 2016. Early in her career, she was helped by another big country name, Patsy Cline, who helped her climb in an industry full of men.
His Grammy Awards came in 2005 with the album Van Lear Rose, which he made in collaboration with The White Stripes rocker Jack White. The title again referred to Lynn’s childhood, as Van Lear is the town in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. Her fellow musicians credited Lynn with her courage to explore new themes in country. The Country Music Association named her Artist of the Year in 1972, making her the first woman to win that distinction.
But its importance went beyond the borders of a genre that is part of the DNA of the American. In November 2013, President Barack Obama received her at the White House along with other prominent members of society to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Her first guitar of hers cost her $17. And with her, this daughter of a miner gave a voice to a generation singing about what no one dared to talk about,” said the president at the ceremony, where he also recalled that before rising to fame as an artist, Lynn won awards at the rural fairs for their canned vegetable preserves.
Wouldn’t it be great?, his penultimate album, was released in September 2018. His public appearances were reduced to a minimum after 2017, when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 85. In April 2019, however, she was able to take part in the tribute that the Recording Academy made to her career and that featured Jack White, Garth Brooks and Kacey Musgraves as special guests. Her final album, 2021’s Still Woman Enough, is a collection of tracks that pays tribute to women in country. A legend that she helped forge.