Loretta Celebrates 50 Years at the Opry

Pictured (L-R): Steve Buchanan (President Grand Ole Opry Group), Trace Adkins, Lee Ann Womack, Crystal Gayle, Angaleena Presley, Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Pete Fisher (VP/GM Grand Ole Opry). Photo: Chris Hollo

Loretta Lynn looked and sounded like Country music royalty yesterday evening (9/25), as she celebrated 50 years of membership with the Grand Ole Opry, to a sold-out audience at the Opry house in Nashville.

Lynn, who received the Country Music Association’s first Female Vocalist of the Year in 1967, was joined onstage by family and friends who received similar recognition by the organization, including her sister Crystal Gayle (1977-78), Lee Ann Womack (2001), and Miranda Lambert (2010-11).

Guest performer Bill Anderson reminisced about his own 50-year anniversary in 2011. Gayle performed the first No. 1 song written by sisters Lynn and Peggy Sue Webb, “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).” Womack turned in her version of “I Know How.”

Before officially debuting on the Opry stage with her girl group Pistol Annies, Lambert performed “Honky Tonk Girl.”

“We call [Loretta] the alpha omega Annie,” said Lambert on behalf of her bandmates Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, who paid tribute to the legend with “Fist City.”

For the first half of the show Lynn watched on from the theater’s front row. But as the legend prepared side stage, as she did for her 1962 induction, emcee Bill Cody reminded the audience, “Tonight, we are going to make Country music history.”

Lynn’s voice was as strong as her spirit as she skipped center stage for performances of “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” and a duet with Trace Adkins, who took Conway Twitty’s part on “Lead Me On.”

Opry General Manager Pete Fisher recognized the icon’s contributions by presenting her with a handcrafted 18-karat pink and gold diamond watch by Johnathon Arndt.

Finally, the Opry’s “Honky Tonk Angel” (as Fisher called her) invited her female vocalist friends back to the stage for a revival of her signature hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

“I spent the night in the car out front of the old Grand Ole Opry,” recalled Lynn of her first Opry experience with husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn. “We were so poor, the next morning we divided a doughnut and got our picture made in front of it. I was so nervous I don’t remember anything other than tapping my foot to the songs.”

When asked her secret, Lynn joked, “Well, I’m good! In sincerity, hard work. You have to live a life before you can write.”

Thankfully, that life has been commemorated through her own words and melodies. She remains radiant and dignified, continuing to make Country music history, even today.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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