Thanks in part to the popular biopic, Coal Minerís Daughter (1980), Loretta Lynn is the best known female vocalist in country music history. This recognition, however, is also a byproduct of her lengthy run as a hit-making artist. Furthermore, she wrote many of her classic recordings despite little formal education.
Born Loretta Webb in rural Butcherís Hollow, Kentucky, at age thirteen she married nineteen-year-old Oliver "Moonshine" Lynn. The couple moved to Custer, Washington, where Loretta had four children by age seventeen. While help make a living by doing other peopleís laundry and sometimes picking strawberries with migrant workers, she began writing songs using a Sears Roebuck guitar. Her husband advised her to turn professional, arranging dates in local performing venues as her manager.
Lynn recorded her first song, "Honky Tonk Girl" (Zero 1011; 1960), for the California-based Zero label as an eighteen-year-old. They promoted the disc by visiting country radio stations across the nation; as a result, it reached number fourteen on the country charts. Shortly thereafter, in October 1960, she appeared on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time; she would be invited on as a full-time performer in 1962. In the meantime, she became a touring member of the Wilburn Brothers Show from 1960-1968 and secured a recording contract with Decca Records.
Following her first Top Ten country song, the Owen Bradley-produced "Success" (Decca 31384; 1962; #6), the hits came at sporadic intervals. However, she was rarely off the charts for the next two decades following the release of the classic "Donít Come Home AíDrinkiní (With Loviní On Your Mind) (Decca 32045; 1966: #1). Other number one singles included "Fist City" (Decca 32264; 1968), "Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone)" (Decca 32439; 1969), "Coal Minerís Daughter" (Decca 32749: 1970; #83 pop), "After the Fire In Gone" (Decca 32776; 1971; #56 pop; with Conway Twitty), "Lead Me On" (Decca 32873; 1971; with Conway Twitty), "Oneís On the Way" (Decca 32900; 1971), "Rated ĎXí" (Decca 33039; 1972), "Love Is the Foundation" (MCA 40058; 1973), "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (MCA 40079; 1973; with Conway Twitty), "As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone" (MCA 40251; 1974; with Conway Twitty), "Trouble in Paradise" (MCA 40283; 1974), "Feelinsí" (MCA 40420; 1975; with Conway Twitty), "Somebody Somewhere" (MCA 40607; 1976), "Sheís Got You" (MCA 40679; 1977), and "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed" (MCA 40832; 1977). Her down-home demeanor, uncompromising treatment of themes vitally important to her fans, and plaintive vocals earned her the title "Queen of Country Music."
Lynn became a pop culture phenomenon when her autobiography, written with the assistance of New York Times reported George Vecsey, Coal Minerís Daughter, was one of the Top Ten selling books of 1976. The 1980 film version starred Sissy Spacek, who earned an Oscar for Best Actress on the strength of her performance (which included singing the Lynn songs appearing on the soundtrack). Lynnís mainstream popularity was further cemented by a series of network TV appearances, including Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Muppet Show.
Lynn is now an institution within the Nashville Establishment. She was the first female artist to win the Country Music Associationís Entertainer of the Year award (1972) as has won both the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Duo of the Year awards on three different occasions. She is also the owner of various successful business ventures, including the entire town of Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, her current place of residence.
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