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BLUE KENTUCKY GIRL AT THE HALL OF FAME

 

At a preview event for the Blue Kentucky Girl exhibit dedicated to country giant Loretta Lynn, the following people prepared to come home a-drinkin' with lovin' on their minds: Peggy LynnCountry Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle YoungMargo PriceBrandy ClarkPatsy Lynn Russell and Kacey Musgraves

Loretta Lynn was iconic long before Jack White produced her millennially hip Grammy-winning record Van Lear Rose. A feminist’s feminist with a plain-spoken take on marital issues, birth control and making your own destiny, the pride of Butcher Holler, Kentucky’s daughter Patsy and the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Kyle Young were on hand to welcome VIPs for a preview event for “Blue Kentucky Girl.”

Lynn, who rose to prominence as a hard country singer championed by Patsy Cline, has provided some of country’s most gutting classics. “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” “You’re Looking at Country,” “Rated X,” “The Pill,” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” “When the Tingle Becomes A Chill,” and her breakout “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl.”

Margot Price put her musical stamp on the President’s Medal of Honor winner’s “Fist City” after opening remarks from Young. A scrappy self-made star—like Lynn—Price delivered a stripped-down, raw, acoustic presentation, letting the songs’ swagger do the heavy lifting. The well-dressed crowd whooped in response.

Kacey Musgraves, who wrote the forward to the exhibit’s book in two days while working on her own album, offered this telling perspective: “When I think about Loretta’s journey, it's even more impressive to me that back then there was zero formula. There was no ‘norm’ for an outspoken artist who just happened to also be a poor, young mother of four. There was no norm for songwriters or guitar players. There was no norm for even women in general. No iTunes, no cell phones, no AutoTune, no social media, no YouTube, no reality shows promising stardom, and no instant gratification. There was just pure grit, aligned stars, unique perspective, and good, old-fashioned talent. I've found myself thinking in many situations, ‘What about Loretta? What would she have done?’” As the assembled crowd of 400 listened rapt, the diminutive songwriter continued, “Well, she definitely didn't shy away from loudly representing real things that she and many others were dealing with daily, no matter the repercussions. That is one of the most country—and, ironically, one of the most punk things—she could ever do.”

“When Loretta is touted on Music Row these days,” Musgraves added, “the sequined side of her history tends to overshadow that she's probably had more songs banned than any other artist in the history of country music.” was met with loud cheers and fist bumps.

After Young and Patsy Lynn recognized the key contributors to the event for the attendees, including power managers Jason Owen, Gail Gellman, plus EM.Co’s Kelly Clague and Jack Purcell, NPR’s Jewly Hight, Rolling Stone’s Jon Freeman, Wall Street Journal contributor Barry Mazor, SiriusXM legend Charlie Monk, legendary designer Manuel and historian/BR5-49 founder Chuck Mead.

 “When Loretta is touted on Music Row these days,” Musgraves added, “the sequined side of her history tends to overshadow that she's probably had more songs banned than any other artist in the history of country music.” 

Brandy Clark closed the event with a silken take on Lynn’s signature “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” taking all the pride and adding a strong dose of euphoria. A vocal proponent of the Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, resident, she captured the spirit in the room—and provided the perfect note for those staying to view the exhibit, which includes, among other artifacts:

  • Lynn’s original handwritten manuscript for her chart-topping 1970 hit, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
  • The 1956 model 99 Singer sewing machine Lynn used to make her own stage clothes very early in her career.
  • An American DR-332 ribbon microphone used by Lynn at her first recording session, in Western Recorders Studio, Los Angeles, February 1960. She cut her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” and three more original songs at the session.
  • A red-and-white polka-dot dress with sequins and silver-cord trim, made by Lynn when she was fourteen—and worn by Sissy Spacek when she portrayed Lynn in the film Coal Miner's Daughter.
  • The Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented to Lynn by President Obama in 2013.
  • Green chiffon Lillie Rubin gown worn by Lynn at the 1972 CMA Awards, where she was named Entertainer of the Year.
  • A 1956 Gibson J-50 guitar, used extensively by Lynn in performance and for songwriting. It was given to her in 1961 by her husband, Doolittle “Mooney” Lynn, who made the Formica pickguard.
  • A red dress embellished with beads and sequins, worn by Lynn on the cover of her 1968 album Fist City.

The exhibition opens on 8/25 and runs through 8/5/18. It’s running alongside exhibits devoted to Shania Twain and Jason Aldean, with a Faith Hill/Tim McGraw exhibit slated to open in November.

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