It was a “who’s who” of the world of country music at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena as stars and fans gathered to celebrate the upcoming 87th birthday of a true icon. There’s no doubting that Loretta Lynn helped pave the way for many of today’s artists, her song writing pushed boundaries and was way ahead of its time, but of course was always full of truth not to mention a fair bit of humour!
What an honour it was to have witnessed this event first hand, thanks to the kindness and generosity of some of my “country music family” across the pond, a real once in a lifetime experience if ever there was one!
Loretta looked stunning in vivid red and naturally got a standing ovation as she was helped to her seat at the side of the stage to watch those artists she’d invited perform songs from her extensive catalogue of 41 studio albums (the latest released just last year), all backed by a superb house band. Although still a little frail after recent health issues it was obvious throughout that she was enjoying every moment, and she was showered with admiration, love and gratitude (plus a fair few hugs!) from the performers.
Cam was the evening’s MC, welcoming us all and thanking Loretta for making the world a more beautiful and truthful place before Martina McBride kicked things off with “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl”.
There were far too many performances to mention here, all very special in their own way, and of course it was particularly fantastic for me and this site to have so many females take to the stage. Some of my highlights were Kacey Musgraves (“You Ain’t Woman Enough”) Brandi Carlile (“She’s Got You”…..she also accompanied badass Tanya Tucker) Miranda Lambert (‘Don’t Come Home From Drinkin’) Brandy Clark (” You’re Lookin’ at Country”) Pistol Annies (“Fist City”) LeeAnnWomack (“Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven”) and an 8 months pregnant Margo Price appropriately performing “One On The Way” !
How exciting too that the new female supergroup, Highwomen (Maren Morris, Brandi Carlisle, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby) gave their first ever public performance, singing “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, the Kitty Wells classic that Loretta has recorded with her.
In addition several artists who were unable to be there in person, including Dolly and Carrie, sent birthday messages via video.
Of course Loretta’s family had also gathered for the event, her sister Crystal Gayle and grand daughter Tayla Lynn in particular playing their parts in the proceedings.
The grand finale of the three hour extravaganza saw all the artists gather on stage to perform “Coalminers Daughter” with Loretta herself taking her place among them ….initially hesitant to sing, it wasn’t long before she couldn’t resist and took the microphone from Crystal and joined in, getting stronger and more confident all the time, much to the delight of everyone present.
Yes, this sell-out show was a fitting and moving tribute to a very special lady indeed, thank you for everything you have a achieved ( so far!) Loretta.
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)