Loretta Lynn, Country Music Star Who Voiced Rural Resilience, Dies at 90Breaking News
tags: music, womens history, country music, Applalachia
Loretta Lynn, the country singer whose plucky songs and inspiring life story made her one of the most beloved American musical performers of her generation, died on Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90.
Her family said in a statement that she died in her sleep at her ranch, which had turned Hurricane Mills, about 70 miles west of Nashville, into a tourist destination.
Ms. Lynn built her stardom not only on her music, but also on her image as a symbol of rural pride and determination. Her story was carved out of Kentucky coal country, from hardscrabble beginnings in Butcher Hollow (which her songs made famous as Butcher Holler). She became a wife at 15, a mother at 16 and a grandmother in her early 30s, married to a womanizing sometime bootlegger who managed her to stardom. That story made her autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” a best seller and the grist for an Oscar-winning movie adaptation of the same name.
Her voice was unmistakable, with its Kentucky drawl, its tensely coiled vibrato and its deep reserves of power. “She’s louder than most, and she’s gonna sing higher than you think she will,” said John Carter Cash, who produced Ms. Lynn’s final recordings. “With Loretta you just turn on the mic, stand back and hold on.”
Her songwriting made her a model for generations of country songwriters. Her music was rooted in the verities of honky-tonk country and the Appalachian songs she had grown up singing, and her lyrics were lean and direct, with nuggets of wordplay: “She’s got everything it takes/To take everything you’ve got,” she sang in “Everything It Takes,” one of her many songs about cheating, released in 2016.
Ms. Lynn got her start in the music business at a time when male artists dominated the country airwaves. She nevertheless became a voice for ordinary women, recording three-minute morality plays in the 1960s and ’70s — many written by her, some written by others — that spoke to the changing mores of women throughout America.
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