Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue Honor Sister Loretta Lynn with Performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Peggy Sue Wright and Crystal Gayle honored their sister, the late country music legend Loretta Lynn during a special performance during the CMT Artist of the Year ceremony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville on Oct. 14 with a performance of Lynn’s classic “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

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Before Gayle and Wright stepped on stage to perform Lynn’s 1970 hit, Martina McBride gave a speech honoring Lynn, who died on Oct. 4 at the age of 90, and talked about how she addressed everything from love and divorce, sex, contraception through her storytelling in songs.

“She was ahead of her time and paved the trail for all of us women in country music,” said McBride. “She wrote her own songs at a time, and that was not the norm. She sang about things no one else dared to sing about, giving a voice to a whole generation of women. She sang feminist anthems, politically charged songs on songs of heartbreak, struggles, cheating, and desire, feisty songs about standing your ground, songs about her childhood and family, songs that women could relate to. She wrote music so personal that you could hardly imagine anyone else singing.”

She added, “And maybe the most remarkable thing about her, and there were a lot of remarkable things about her, was the way she met us and made us artists feel.”

McBride also honored Lynn with a rendition of another Coal Miner’s Daughter hit, “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).”

“She was always there for us, lifting us up, mentoring us, urging us to come see her,” said McBride. “She was warm and sassy and so real, and that laugh, that smile. I don’t think you would ever meet anyone who didn’t love her. What a legacy that is. Loretta left an indelible mark on country music and is one of the most iconic female artists in country history and one of the most important and inspirational figures in all of music period.”

Adding to the evening of tributes for Lynn, who received the CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award in 2018, Tanya Tucker also spoke about her late friend’s influence on her life. “I’ve been so blessed with the gift of her music and also the gift of her friendship,” said an emotional Tucker. “She guided me through this business. Even before we met, I remember me and my dad would watch her every Thursday night on the ‘The Wilburn Brothers Show,’ and he’d say, ‘Tanya, ain’t she beautiful?’ I always looked up to her, and I always will. That will never change.”

Before welcoming Wright and Gayle to the stage, Tucker added, “I grew up singing her drinking cheating songs. I really treasure the time that we got to spend together. She would call me, and she’d say, ‘Honey, you need some money?’ Well, there’ve been times I wish I said yes. She went from being my hero to being my truly great friend and then back to being my hero again. I miss you already.”

As an emotional Gayle and Wright sang through “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” black and white footage played on a big screen showing highlight moments throughout Lynn’s career. 

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT

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