American country music icon Loretta Lynn, who died Tuesday at the age of 90
Steph Deschamps / October 5, 2022
She stood behind many Republican candidates, including Donald Trump in 2016. But she was a unanimous voice in the music industry, which she deeply influenced.
When I'm six feet under, they can say, 'Loretta stopped singing. To Billboard magazine, she had confided that she would never retire from music. The icon of the American country song Loretta Lynn died this Tuesday at the age of 90 years. She was made famous by her texts relaying the problems encountered by women and long passed under silence by society.
Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 in a poor family of Kentucky, she was the eldest of eight siblings. She immortalized her childhood in her song "Coal Miner's Daughter". "Well, I was born a miner's daughter/In a shack, up in Butcher Holler Heights," she recounts in her 1970s hit.
At only 15 years old, the singer married Oliver Vanetta, whose life she shared for 50 years, until his death in 1996. They settled in a small logging town in Washington State, where Loretta Lynn gave birth to four children before she even blew out 20 candles. Shortly after, the couple also welcomed twins.
Captivated by his wife's voice, Oliver Vanetta gave her a guitar in the early 1950s. A gift of fate. The self-taught singer is inspired for her texts by her own experiences as a young bride and the tumult of her love relationship.
She formed her own band, called Loretta and the Trailblazers, and began performing in bars before recording her first hit, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," in 1960. "Most songwriters were writing about falling in love, breaking up and being alone," she explained to The Wall Street Journal in 2016. "The female perspective I was describing was new.
The singer then went on tour to promote her songs on the radio, and performed for the first time on the mythical stage of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960, a Nashville institution of which she would become one of the most acclaimed artists.
Loretta Lynn is a hitmaker. With "Dear Uncle Sam" in 1966, she signs one of the first titles evoking the tragedy of the war in Vietnam. Also in 1966, she released "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)", which catapulted to the top of the charts and made her the first country singer to have written a number one hit.
In 1969, she released one of her most controversial songs, "Wings Upon Your Horns," which used a religious metaphor to describe a teenager losing her virginity. In "The Pill" in 1975, she praised the freedoms allowed by the birth control pill.
In 1988, Loretta Lynn entered the Country Music Hall of Fame. Over the course of her life, she will have been awarded nearly every artistic honor, including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, presented by Barack Obama in 2013.
Despite the progressive themes of her lyrics, the singer insisted that her music had "no political purpose." She has sided with many Republican candidates, including Donald Trump in 2016, although she has also supported Democrats like Jimmy Carter.
But she was unanimous in the music industry, which she deeply influenced, collaborating with many artists, including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello. In 2021, at almost 89 years old, she released the album "Still Woman Enough", which included re-recordings and new songs.