Loretta Lynn went from being a “Honky Tonk Girl’ to country music royalty. Since her debut nearly 60 years ago with “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” the spunky singer from Kentucky has forged a superstar career as one of the most influential artists in country music history. She broke barriers as well as stereotypes for women in country music with her honest, no-holding-back songs of real life, including “The Pill,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and the autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” made into an award-winning movie.
Lynn is already a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, elected to the prestigious body in 1988. It’s only fitting, then, that she receive her own exhibit inside the hallowed Hall. Tuesday night (Aug. 22), industry greats, media members and other invited guests were allowed a sneak preview of Lynn’s exhibit, titled Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl, at a gala event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville. The exhibit opens to the public August 25th and runs through August 5th of 2018.
Unfortunately, Lynn was unable to attend the ceremony, as she continues to recover from a stroke she suffered in May. But her presence was certainly felt. Guests were treated to performances by Brandy Clark and Margo Price, along with celebratory remarks by Kacey Musgraves and one of Lynn’s daughters, Patsy. Price opened with a blazing rendition of “Fist City” while Clark gave a heartfelt performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Musgraves’ speech featured the foreword she wrote for the exhibit’s catalog, recalling Lynn’s career and citing her musical influence.
Thankfully, Lynn saved a slew of personal and career mementos over the years, resulting in an exhibit that captures the full essence of the star from childhood to present time. Among the priceless items: Lynn’s hand-written manuscript for “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” her 1972 CMA award for Entertainer of the Year (she was the first female artist to win that honor) and the Lillie Rubin gown she wore to that show, her 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom and archival photographs. Also on display is a polka dot dress Lynn made at age 14, which Sissy Spacek wore when she portrayed Lynn in the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” movie.
Informative wall panels tell Lynn’s life story and detail her many accomplishments. Plus, viewers will get an up-close look at her album covers and enjoy video interviews with Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert and other stars.
Lynn achieved a number of career milestones, including 11 solo No. 1 hits and five more with duet partner Conway Twitty. She won the first-ever CMA award for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1967, and picked up additional titles in 1972 and 1973. Lynn and Twitty also scored four straight CMA Vocal Duo of the Year awards from 1972-1975. By overcoming a poverty-stricken childhood in the Kentucky coal-mining region, Lynn became the very embodiment of the American success story. Now, Lynn is sharing that story with fans all over the world in her new exhibit.
“Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl” is open now at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.