6 Granddaughters of Country Legends Who Carved Their Own Musical Paths

For generations, music has lived well beyond the country music legends that were first created through the music of their children. Hank Williams Jr., Waylon Jennings, and Jessi Coulter‘s Shooter Jennings, Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash, Kelly Marie, and Casey Kristofferson, Ben Haggard, Lukas and Micah Nelson, and Loretta Lynn‘s daughter, and producer Patsy Lynn Russell are just a few sons and daughters making music.

The second generation also had music running through their veins, following in familiar footsteps with Whey Jennings, Tre Twitty, Hank Williams III, Sam Williams, and more making music, along with some country legends’ granddaughters. Here are six women who followed their legendary grandparents’ musical paths and made their own music.

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1. Chelsea Jane Crowell

Chelsea Jane Crowell released her self-titled debut and follow-up Crystal City in 2011. A year later, the daughter of Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell and granddaughter of Johnny Cash, released a self-titled album as the other half of the duo Jane Only with Stephen Braren.

“It’s not something that’s there all the time, but you find your areas and make peace with it,” said Crowell in 2013 on some of the pressures of coming from a well-known musical family. “Once I had my own records, I began to feel a little bit more confident, to feel a little less pressure. It’s a paying-your-dues type of thing.”

2. Holly Williams

In 2006, Holly Williams nearly died in a car accident with her sister Hilary. Just two years earlier Holly, daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of Hank Williams, released her debut The Ones We Never Knew, followed by Here With Me in 2009, and The Highway in 2013.

Williams’ 2013 song “Waiting on June,” which appears on The Highway, was a song she wrote for her other grandparents. “This song means more to me personally than anything I’ve ever written,” said Williams. “It’s the bittersweet true story of my grandparent’s life together from the beginning until the end. I wrote it from the shoes of my papaw to my granny, shortly after I lost both of them.”

She continued, “The Williams legacy side is always focused on, and I’m unbelievably proud to be in the lineage, but I didn’t know Hank Williams as a grandparent. He died in 1952 and Audrey was gone before I was born. The grandparents I knew and loved and spent so much time with were Warren and June White, from a small town in Louisiana called Mer Rouge.”

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3. Hilary Williams

In 2018, Hilary Williams released her debut My Lucky Stars, which includes Williams’ original songs and a cover of Joni Mitchell‘s “River.” That year, Hilary also made her Grand Ole Opry debut. “Making my Grand Ole Opry debut was a very surreal moment for me,” said Williams. “Walking into the circle was something I have dreamed of since I was a little girl and started to sing. I’ve seen videos of my grandpa on that stage and have been in the audience watching my dad and my sister, I couldn’t wait for my moment as well. I will never forget the audience that night.”

Hilary, Holly, and brother Sam recently performed at the celebration of what would have been their grandfather Hank Williams’ 100th birthday in 2023.

4. Raelyn Nelson

“I grew up in Nashville,” said Raelyn Nelson. “My mama says I came out singing.” Described as “part Loretta Lynn, part Cheap Trick,” the Raelyn Nelson Band is Willie Nelson‘s granddaughter’s own musical brew with guitarist Jonathan Bright, bassist Preach Rutherford, and a collection of drummers. The band has already shared the stage with Tim McGraw, Drivin’ n Cryin’, and more.

“I don’t really have any desire to be a solo artist,” said Nelson. “Everyone in my family who plays music has always placed a lot of importance on band chemistry, on stage, off stage, and in the studio. Our band can almost read each other’s minds. Why would I mess with that? We try to keep it simple: Write songs we like, record them, make a video, then go out and play them for people.”

[RELATED: 3 Songs Willie Nelson Contributed to The Highwaymen]

5. Tayla Lynn

When Tayla Lynn was 4, her grandmother Loretta Lynn first brought her on stage. “I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t in the wings in some town somewhere, watchin’ my Memaw [Loretta Lynn]  and my Daddy [Ernest Ray Lynn] on stage,” said Tayla. “I started singing as soon as I opened my mouth.”

The younger Lynn started touring and performing with her grandmother for 20 years. Signed to Skyville Records in 2007, Tayla’s first musical project was part of the trio Stealing Angels. She released her debut album, The Ranch, in 2016 and a series of singles including “Blue in My Eyes” in 2019. By 2021, she released Tayla Lynn Sings Loretta Lynn, a collection of covers of her grandmother’s songs.

As one half of Twitty & Lynn made up of Tayla and Conway Twitty’s grandson Tre Twitty, the duo released Cookin’ Up Lovin’ in 2024. The album features seven original songs along with duets performed by their grandparents Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, who released 10 albums together between 1971 and 1981.

6. Emmy Russell

The 25-year-old singer, songwriter, and granddaughter of Loretta Lynn had a successful run on season 22 of American Idol, making her way just shy of the top three before being eliminated. On Idol is where Emmy Russell also revealed some of her original songs, including “Skinny,” a personal story she wrote addressing an eating disorder. While still competing on Idol, she also performed another original, “Want You,” on what would have been her grandmother’s 92nd birthday.

Days after being eliminated from the singing competition, Russell released “Redemption.” Co-written with Lauren McLamb and Rob Sewell, the song revisits a past relationship and finding self-love: Now you’re saying all the things I wish you would’ve / Doing all the things you never could’ve / Don’t you think that it’s too late for redemption.

“The point of being here is you can be yourself and be successful,” said Russell after her Idol elimination. “Don’t run from rejection of pain and facing hard things.” Referencing Miley Cyrus‘ 2009 hit “The Climb,” Russell added, “I really think that she says it best. It’s like sometimes you’re going to have to lose. It’s not about how fast you get there. It’s not about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”

Russell returned for the season finale of American Idol to perform her grandmother’s classic, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” with Wynonna Judd.

[RELATED: 3 Songs You Didn’t Know Patsy Lynn Russell Wrote With Her Mom Loretta Lynn]

Photo: Disney/Eric McCandless

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