Yesterday, the country music world lost a true legend. Loretta Lynn blazed a trail for every female country artist in the business today. She used her voice to shine a light on things that many would have been happy to leave in the dark. Dolly Parton even called her the queen of country music. Today, as the world mourns the loss of the closest thing we Americans had to royalty, we’re looking back on Lynn’s final performance.
Loretta Lynn suffered a stroke in May of 2017. It didn’t stop her from recording new music or organizing benefit shows. However, the stroke made her drastically reduce her number of live performances. In fact, it would be nearly two years before Lynn would take the stage to sing again. No one knew that would also be the last time she did so.
Loretta Lynn’s Final Performance
On April 1st, 2019, Loretta Lynn celebrated her 87th birthday at Nashville’s Bridgestone arena with an all-star guest list. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, Miranda Lambert and the rest of the Pistol Annies, Loretta’s sister Crystal Gayle, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Keith Urban, and several more were there to celebrate the icon’s life, career, and impact on country music.
It was a night of great performances from some of country’s brightest stars. However, the highlight of the night was Loretta Lynn taking the stage with a group of stars to sing her iconic autobiographical hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter” for what would be the final time.
Crystal Gayle and Tanya Tucker handled a good portion of the lead vocals for the performance. Then, Loretta Lynn took over. It’s obvious that she’s still trying to find her voice again after suffering the stroke. However, the smile on her face says that she’s more than happy to be where she is. This show of strength epitomizes who Lynn was as an artist and, more importantly, as a woman.
They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore
In recent years, I’ve found myself trying to describe the magnitude of Loretta Lynn’s impact on country music. She was a trailblazer on so many levels. Songs like “The Pill” and “One’s on the Way” pushed boundaries for the time. More than that, she lit the way for generations of female artists. It’s safe to say that without Loretta, many ladies of country music wouldn’t have picked up a microphone.
Sometimes, though, that’s not enough. So, I defer to Dolly Parton. In a 2018 interview with Nightline, Dolly talked about how she feels when people call her the Queen of Country Music. “I’m not the queen, though. The Queen of Country Music is Kitty Wells. Then, there are others like Loretta [Lynn] and Tammy [Wynette],” she said.
In short, Loretta Lynn was an artist that icons looked up to. Her legacy and music will outlive us all.