It’s been almost a month since we lost the the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn, and last night the stars showed up to the Grand Ole Opry to celebrate her life in a big way. Hosted by NBC’s “Today Show” co-host and close family friend Jenna Bush Hager, the public celebration featured tribute performances from Alan Jackson, Brandi Carlile, Darius Rucker, George Strait, The Highwomen’s Carlile, Amanda Shires + Natalie Hemby with Brittany Spencer, Jack White, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Margo Price, Emmy Russell + Lukas Nelson, Tanya Tucker and Wynonna with Gaither Vocal Band + Larry Strickland.
On-stage guests who appeared to share heartfelt messages included Barbara Mandrell, Darius Rucker, Faith Hill, Hoda Kotb, Martina McBride, Sheryl Crow and Tim McGraw, plus special messages from Lynn’s closest friends and fans: Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves, Marty Stuart, Miranda Lambert, Reba, Sissy Spacek and Taylor Swift.
Alan Jackson expressed his gratitude to the Lynn family for allowing him to sing “Where Her Heart Has Always Been,” (watch above) the song he wrote for his mother when she passed away, in memory of Loretta. He shared that Loretta often reminded him of his mother: “Both were outgoing, sweet and genuine and would tell you exactly what was on their minds.”
Throughout the evening, some of Lynn’s closest friends and fans delivered heartfelt speeches and shared personal memories, including Sissy Spacek, who recalled being “thunderstruck” upon first meeting Loretta; Dolly Parton shared that “Loretta was the best friend anybody could ever have.” Taylor Swift praised Lynn for being an example for all songwriters, particularly females with her ‘truthful, fearless honesty’ in her writing.
Jack White’s surprise appearance and powerful live performance of “Van Lear Rose,” the title track of his and Loretta’s Grammy-winning album, was one of the highlights of the night. Introduced by Margo Price, fans were also treated to a rarely seen performance from Third Man Records Vault Package #24 featuring White and Lynn performing “Whispering Sea,” a favorite of White’s and one of the first songs Loretta ever wrote.
Check out the gallery of photos shot by Nashville.com’s talented friend and photographer Curtis Hilbun.
In loving memory of the life and legacy of Loretta Lynn, The Loretta Lynn Foundation exists to establish, preserve, and promote public awareness of the historical and cultural contributions of Loretta Lynn and the cultural contributions of country music as a genre and to establish, preserve, and maintain an educational and recreational facility for the general public through which to give to and serve others. For more information and to make a donation, visit foundation.lorettalynn.com or text LORETTA to 53-555.