On This Day: Loretta Lynn Honored by Kennedy Center for Lifetime Contributions to Arts in 2003

by Katie Maloney

17 years ago on this date, Loretta Lynn received an incredible award for her contribution to the arts during the Kennedy Center Honors.

Lynn’s incredible story from the Appalachians to country music stardom is a lyricist’s dream. So much so, Lynn wrote a song about her upbringing, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The song spent 15 weeks on the Hot Country Songs charts peaking at the number one spot and solidified Lynn’s status as a country music legend.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter continued to release songs that were authentic, plainspoken and filled with heart. In 2003, Lynn was honored for her lifetime of contributions to American culture during the Kennedy Center Honors. Lynn was honored along with performer James Brown, comedian Carol Burnett, director Mike Nichols, and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Loretta Lynn honored during Kennedy Center Honors in 2003.

Actress Sissy Spacek Wants To Play Loretta Lynn ‘For The Rest Of My Life’

During the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, a tribute video played stating Lynn was “a fresh breeze that blew the lid off of country music.” Lynn spoke her mind during a time when women weren’t necessarily encouraged to do so. The video continues, “They tried to shut her down, but they couldn’t’ shut her up, and women loved her for it.”

One of those women was Sissy Spacek, who played Lynn in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter. Spacek honored Lynn with a speech during the ceremony. During the speech, Spacek shares how Lynn coached her through learning her songs in preparation for the film. She says they pinned lyrics of each song to lampshades in the hotel room they were staying. Every time they passed a lampshade, they would sing together. Spacek says that there was an instant connection when she met Lynn.

“The first time I ever met Loretta Lynn, I felt like I knew her my entire life,” says Spacek. “The hardest thing I had to do was to stop being Loretta. I could have gone on being you for the rest of my life. But everyone in the world knows there’s only one Loretta Lynn.”