• Inducted
    1988
  • Born
    April 14, 1932
  • Birthplace
    Butcher Holler, Kentucky

Beginnings in Kentucky

By telling her own truths, and by writing about her experiences with a perspective and voice unlike any other Southern storyteller, Loretta Lynn has become an American hero and a country music standard-bearer. She was born Loretta Webb in a one-room log cabin and was the second of eight children. Her father was a coal miner in the rural coal town of Butcher Holler.

At fifteen, she attended a pie social, bringing a pie she had baked using salt instead of sugar. The highest bidder not only won the pie but also got to meet the girl who had baked it. Doolittle “Mooney” Lynn had just returned home from the army. A month after they had first met, and three months short of her sixteenth birthday, Loretta and Mooney married

A year later, the couple moved to the state of Washington, after Mooney had heard job opportunities were better there. It was the first time Loretta had been away from home. Mooney found work while Loretta, at age sixteen, became pregnant with their first child. By the time she was twenty-two, she had four children.

Loretta had grown up listening to country music and often sang around the house. Her favorite singer was Kitty Wells. Mooney bought her a $17 Sears guitar so she could play as she sang. Later he helped arrange an engagement at the local Grange hall, bragging that his wife could sing better than anyone except Kitty Wells. Soon Loretta was performing with a local band and within months formed a band of her own.

Songs

Coal Miner’s Daughter
Loretta Lynn

00:00  /  00:00

Decca 32749 (1970 studio recording)
The Pill
Loretta Lynn

00:00  /  00:00

MCA 40358 (1975 studio recording)
Portland, Oregon
Loretta Lynn and Jack White

00:00  /  00:00

Album track from Interscope B0002513-02 (2004 studio recording)

Beginnings in Kentucky

By telling her own truths, and by writing about her experiences with a perspective and voice unlike any other Southern storyteller, Loretta Lynn has become an American hero and a country music standard-bearer. She was born Loretta Webb in a one-room log cabin and was the second of eight children. Her father was a coal miner in the rural coal town of Butcher Holler.

At fifteen, she attended a pie social, bringing a pie she had baked using salt instead of sugar. The highest bidder not only won the pie but also got to meet the girl who had baked it. Doolittle “Mooney” Lynn had just returned home from the army. A month after they had first met, and three months short of her sixteenth birthday, Loretta and Mooney married.

A year later, the couple moved to the state of Washington, after Mooney had heard job opportunities were better there. It was the first time Loretta had been away from home. Mooney found work while Loretta, at age sixteen, became pregnant with their first child. By the time she was twenty-two, she had four children.

Loretta had grown up listening to country music and often sang around the house. Her favorite singer was Kitty Wells. Mooney bought her a $17 Sears guitar so she could play as she sang. Later he helped arrange an engagement at the local Grange hall, bragging that his wife could sing better than anyone except Kitty Wells. Soon Loretta was performing with a local band and within months formed a band of her own.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Her Signature Song

In 1970, Lynn’s self-penned signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” became one of her biggest hits. She had made three albums of duets with Ernest Tubb before transitioning to recording duets with Conway Twitty. Her first song with Twitty, “After the Fire Is Gone,” topped the charts in 1971 and launched one of the most successful duet teams in country music history. Lynn and Twitty were CMA’s Vocal Duo of the Year from 1972 through 1975. Among their many hits were “Lead Me On,” “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” and “Feelins’.” In 1972, Lynn became the first woman to receive CMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award.

Lynn’s autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter (1976), became a best seller and inspired a 1980 hit movie starring Sissy Spacek. Meanwhile, the singer continued to notch hits such as “Out of My Head and Back in My Bed,” “I’ve Got a Picture of Us on My Mind,” and the aptly titled “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” “I Lie” (1982) was her fifty-first Top Ten hit, with sixteen #1s between 1966 and 1978. During that period, her younger sister, Brenda Gail Webb—better known as Crystal Gayle—became a successful recording artist in her own right. Her first single, in 1970, was a song written by big sister Loretta, “I’ve Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes.”

In 1988 Lynn was elected to The Country Music Hall of Fame. Following her husband’s death in 1996, she returned to solo recording after a hiatus of more than ten years. Audium Records released her album Still Country in 2000. She published her second autobiography, Still Woman Enough, in 2002, and in 2003 she received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime contributions to the arts.

Her strong-selling 2004 album Van Lear Rose, produced by singer-guitarist Jack White of the rock duo the White Stripes, introduced her singing and songwriting skills to new audiences and won a Grammy for Best Country Album. It also took Album of the Year honors at the 2004 Americana Awards, at which Lynn was named Artist of the Year. Starting in 2009, with John Carter Cash producing, Lynn began rerecording her hits and cutting hew material. In 2021, she released her forty-sixth solo studio album, Still Woman Enough. —Laurence Zwisohn

Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press.

Loretta Lynn was CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1967, 1972, and 1973. In these years, she began appearing on television variety programs and talk shows that had rarely featured country music performers because of her natural wit and vivacity.

Related Hall of Fame Members

We use cookies in the following ways: (1) for system administration, (2) to assess the performance of the website, (3) to personalize your experience, content and ads, (4) to provide social media features, and (5) to analyze our traffic. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Please consult instructions for your web browser to disable or block cookies, or to receive a warning before a cookie is stored on your computer or mobile device. Read our Privacy Policy.