A few months ago, my granddaughter Dilaina turned eleven years old. For a birthday present, her Poppa and I decided to give Dilaina tickets to the concert of her choice. Preparing for a case of Bieber Fever or the tween screams and fan-aticism of a 1-D or 5-SOS over-produced extravaganza, my jaw dropped to my chest when I answered the phone, and Dilaina was the caller.
“Hi, Nanna! I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve decided who I want to see in concert. Will you take me to see Loretta Lynn? Pleeeeeze!”
What the heck! Did I hear that right? My eleven year old granddaughter was passing up the teenage and twenty-something heartthrobs du jour for the opportunity to see an 83 year old country music legend. THAT’S MY GIRL! I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud.
As it turned out, Loretta was performing at her ranch in Hurricane Mills outside of Nashville. I couldn’t buy the tickets fast enough. On the short drive to the show,
I told Dilaina all about Loretta.
I told her that her Poppa played piano for Loretta many times on The Grand Ole Opry stage, and as a producer for a TV network called TNN, I interviewed Loretta and her family on several occasions, and it was always a thrill.
I explained that Loretta was a six decade pioneer in the music industry…the first woman to receive the coveted title of CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1972—thirty-two years before Dilaina was born. She was a 4 x Grammy winner, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and over the course of her career, Loretta had scored sixteen #1 hits and sold more than 45 million records.
Through her music Loretta Lynn opened doors for women—doors that are still open today for young ladies like Dilaina. I shared that nine of Loretta’s songs were once banned from some country radio stations because their subject matter “pushed the envelope” for the times in which they were released: songs about birth control, double standards for men and women and being widowed during The Vietnam War.
Curious as to why Dilaina chose Loretta Lynn as her concert gift of choice, she shared that she had recently seen the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter—an autobiography of Loretta’s life story– and had fallen in love with Loretta and her music. It’s hard to fathom, but that movie debuted at the theaters thirty-five years ago. Yet there we were…standing on the very property seen in the movie, the place that Doolittle & Loretta bought to raise their six children…Loretta’s sanctuary when she was off the road.
Hurricane Mills is one of the top ten tourist attractions in the state of Tennessee, and it’s easy to see why. On the property stands a replica of the house where Loretta and most of her seven siblings were raised in Butcher Holler, Kentucky. The plantation style home where she raised her family is open now for tours, and Hurricane Mills features a recording studio, museums, lodging, restaurants, and other attractions including the old mill that was on the property when Loretta bought it. It is also home to a beautiful, partially-covered outdoor theater where we celebrated Dilaina’s birthday with the Country Music Icon herself.
This blog started as a Where Is She Now? feature, but the more appropriate question is where isn’t Loretta Lynn?
A 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in March Loretta will release her first new studio album in over ten years titled Full Circle. At the age of 83, she’s not retiring; she’s recording. That same month PBS will broadcast the nationwide premiere of her new documentary American Masters—Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl. The film will explore Loretta’s hard-fought road to stardom.
With nearly one million followers on her Facebook page to wish her a Happy 84th birthday on April 14th, she’ll probably be serenaded by the audience in Shipshewana, Indiana where she is scheduled to perform on April 16th. Yes. Loretta will be back on the road in 2016. Check out her tour dates here.
As far as 2015 goes for this Nanna, seeing Loretta in concert with my granddaughter—a generation removed—was a priceless experience. Although Dilaina was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to meet Loretta before her concert, we did score a picture with Loretta’s longtime backup singer Michael Lusk, and she was so surprised to see Jewel join Loretta Lynn on stage for a couple of songs proving once again that Loretta’s appeal has no boundaries when it comes to age.
However, nothing can top the memory of seeing my eleven year old granddaughter in the audience singing along with Loretta at the top of her lungs to You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man. You just GOTTA love that!