It was quite a year for the Coal Miner’s Daughter — 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of Loretta Lynn’s emergence as a national star, and she was honored in a slew of ways, including parties, awards and a tribute album by some of today’s top artists.
Loretta was joined by several other legends as 2010 honorees, including Merle Haggard, Jimmy Dean and now Dolly Parton. The recognition paid to the genre’s pioneering acts represents the No. 10 entry in our countdown of country music’s dozen top stories of the year.
Loretta’s first single, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” came out in 1960, and it seemed like every few months during 2010, the music business found some way to pay homage to her impact. Early in the year, she was accorded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, though she was unable to attend the Los Angeles ceremony. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was added to the National Recording Registry, she was saluted with an anniversary party at her Tennessee home, she was celebrated with a Reba McEntire-hosted Recording Academy Salute at the Ryman Auditorium, and a bunch of her classics were remade in the album Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn.
That latter project brought Loretta the opportunity to sing the title track with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow on the Country Music Association Awards. The album also features Lee Ann Womack, Kid Rock, the White Stripes, Alan Jackson and Carrie Underwood, among others. Loretta hand-picked all of the contributors — appropriate, because she’s not one of those veteran stars who dislikes newer versions of country music.
“I love the old country music, don’t get me wrong,” she says. “But I love the pop-flavored country songs that they come out with, too. I like the polished country music that they do today. I’m not sayin’ I can do it, but I love it. I love the old country, and I love the new.”
Among the other “old country” artists and recordings recognized during 2010:
• Willie Nelson’s album Red Headed Stranger joined “Coal Miner’s Daughter” as a new entry in the National Recording Registry.
• Merle Haggard was celebrated at the annual Kennedy Center Honors, along with Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey, among others. The event turns into a CBS special Dec. 28. Merle is saluted by such fellow artists as Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, Kid Rock, Vince Gill and Jamey Johnson.
• Four new names were added to the Country Music Hall of Fame: Don Williams, Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky and songwriter-producer Billy Sherrill, noted for his work on such standards as “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “Stand By Your Man.” Regrettably, Jimmy died before the induction, though he was told about the honor. Trace Adkins joined the Jordanaires to help usher Jimmy in at the official medallion ceremony with a version of his million-selling classic “Big Bad John.”
• Hank Williams was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for his “craftsmanship as a songwriter.”
• Dolly Parton was just announced this week as a recipient of the 2011 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.