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Loretta Lynn is a singer-songwriter known for "Coal Miner's Daughter," among many other country songs. A film about her by the same name was a critical hit.
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Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932, in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn wrote the song 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' wrote a book by the same name, and then had her life story depicted in the film. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and named Female Vocalist of Year from the CMA, Loretta Lynn reinvigorated her career in 2004 with Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White.
Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 (some sources say 1935), in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn grew up in a small cabin in a poor Appalachian coal mining community. The second of eight children, Lynn began singing in church at a young age. Her younger sister, Brenda Gayle Webb, also went on to become a singer, performing as Crystal Gayle.
Lynn married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn just a few months before her 14th birthday in January 1948. The following year, she and her husband moved to Washington State, where he hoped to find better work opportunities. Lynn stayed home to look after their growing family. The couple had four children together by the time Lynn turned 18. Encouraged by her husband, Lynn decided to pursue her interest in music. She landed a contract with Zero Records in 1959, and her first single was "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." To promote the song, the Lynns traveled to different country music radio stations, urging them to play it. Their efforts paid off—the song became a minor hit in 1960.
Moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in late 1960, Lynn worked with Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, who owned a music publishing company and performed as the Wilburn Brothers. This soon led to a contract with Decca Records. She scored her first big hit with 1962's "Success."
During her early days in Nashville, she befriended singer Patsy Cline. Cline helped the naive young singer navigate the tricky world of country music. Lynn was heartbroken when Cline was killed in a 1963 plane crash. "When Patsy died, my God, not only did I lose my best girlfriend, but I lost a great person that was taking care of me. I thought, Now somebody will whip me for sure," Lynn later told Entertainment Weekly.
In 1964, Lynn scored a string of top 10 country hits, including "Wine, Women, and Song" and "Blue Kentucky Girl." Soon recording her own material, Lynn told the stories about all sorts of relationships. The singer had a talent for capturing the everyday struggles of wives and mothers in her songs, while injecting them with her own brand of humor. She, however, did not shy away from more controversial material, tackling the Vietnam War in her 1966 hit "Dear Uncle Sam."
Lynn reached the top of the country charts with "You Ain't Woman Enough (to Take My Man)" in 1967. That same year, Lynn won the award for Female Vocalist of Year from the Country Music Association. She continued to enjoy great success with songs featuring an assertive yet humorous female perspective. "Don't Come Home A 'Drinkin (with Lovin' on Your Mind)" involved a wife telling her husband to forget any amorous intentions, which she penned with country star Kitty Wells.
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The Nashville Sound developed in the late 1950s, when recording studios and artists replaced some of the traditional elements of honky-tonk music with more contemporary pop music sounds. Producer and musician Chet Atkins was one of the genre's inventors, and is credited with bringing country music to a much wider audience. With his smooth voice, Charley Pride is one of country music's few African-American stars—and the only one to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Women were also crucial to the popularity of the Nashville sound, with stars like Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynne bringing women's perpectives, as well as glamour, to the genre.
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