Obituary: Loretta Lynn, the country star who broke barriers with songs that tackled tough women’s issues

Loretta Lynn, who has died aged 90, has been hailed as the queen of country music, along with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, for nearly six decades. She used her reign to speak out.

in an extremely conservative male-dominated industry, she sings in her distinctive, Kentucky voice about premarital sex, divorce, deviant sex, and women’s reproductive rights. female.

In 1975, she released Pill , a song about birth control was denounced in churches across the south and banned by more than 60 radio stations. Her 1978 hit We’ve come a long way, baby Sexual politics and women’s empowerment have been set to a great country tune: “From now on, lover boy, it’s fifty.”

“I was the first to write it like the women who lived it,” she said.

Producer Owen Bradley has likened her to “Hank Williams. She is the spokesperson for the ladies. “

Jack White, who collaborated with Lynn on her 2004 Grammy-winning album Van Lear Rosesays she has “broken down barriers for women.”

Loretta Webb was born on April 14, 1932, the second eldest of eight children in the Appalachian mining town of Van Lear, Kentucky. Her father worked in the local coal mines and would die of black lung disease. The family was so poor, her mother used Sears’ catalog pages as wallpaper in their small house, where there was no electricity or plumbing in the house. Loretta cried as a child when the family pig chewed on the only dress she owned that wasn’t made out of sacks of flour.

In her 1970 hit, Coal Miner’s Daughterthe song became her signature song, she sings “We are poor, but we have love, that’s what dad guarantees”.

Married three months before her 16th birthday to Doolittle Lynn, she became a mother when she was still 16 years old with the first of her six children.

She and her husband recently moved to Washington state, where she sang baby songs.

At her word, Doolittle bought her a $17 guitar and arranged for her to sing at the local hall. Not long after, she was singing with her own band. In February 1960, Zero Records, a record label in Vancouver, signed her.

Her debut single I’m a Honky Tonk girl reached number 14 on the country music chart.

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On September 17, 1960, she made her first appearance on the show she had heard as a child in the hills of Kentucky – Grand Ole Opry.

Signed to major record label Decca, she is a rising star unafraid to speak her mind at a time when the country singer is considered suicidal in her career.

Undeterred, she sang about the war in Vietnam on To Uncle Sam in 1966, followed by her first No 1 hit in 1967 – Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Love In Your Mind) – about unwanted sex in marriage.

In the early 1970s, she sang about the difficulty of motherhood on One is on the way And what does the divorced woman have to endure Rated X “All women look at you like you’re ugly and men expect you to be.”

In 1972, after winning the Entertainer of the Year award, she caused a controversy at the ceremony when she was photographed with Charley Pride.

“I heard that a female singer had Down South canceled after giving a small kiss to a black friend on television,” she later said. “Well, Charley Pride is one of my favorite country music lovers, I made sure I gave him an old hug and a kiss right in front of the camera.”

“When I sang country songs about women struggling to keep things going, you could tell I was there,” she wrote in her 1976 memoir. Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Four years later, the movie of the book won Sissy Spacek an Academy Award for her starring role as Lynn.

In 1993, she collaborated with two country music queens Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton for the album Honky Tonk Angels.

Fifty-one of her songs made the top 10 of country music. Her enormous influence was evident in 2010 on Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Honor to Loretta Lynn, an album with The White Stripes, Kid Rock, Carrie Underwood, Lucinda Williams and others. The same year, she received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Three years later, President Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Her husband died in 1996 and her two children became grandmothers.

Lynn was outspoken almost until the end. In 2020, in an interview, she declared country music “dead”.

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/music-news/obituary-loretta-lynn-country-music-star-who-broke-barriers-with-songs-tackling-gritty-womens-issues-42051099.html Obituary: Loretta Lynn, the country star who broke barriers with songs that tackled tough women’s issues

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