She's been active in the music industry since 1960. She's recorded over 100 albums, had 11 Gold albums, 1 Platinum album, inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, won Entertainer of the Year for both the Country Music Association and the American Music Corporation (both times as the first female entertainer), received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, was Entertainer of the Decade and was awarded the Medal of Freedom, to name just a few of her awards and honors. In addition, she had a movie based on her first autobiography, and has written 4 other books about her life. She's performed at The White House for Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush.
Married at the tender age of 14 (to Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn), gave birth to 4 children by the age of 20 ( and a grandmother by age 34), had twins at the age of 30, struggled with migraine headaches her whole life, survived breast cancer, blood poisoning, multiple bouts of pneumonia and a stroke, she has also buried her best friend as well as her husband and two of her children. A point she makes in her books is "life's most valuable lessons are often the most painful", she knows it because she's lived it.
After leaving Butcher Holler, she and Doolittle (aka "Doo"), moved to Washington State, living on a farm near the Canadian border, in the rural town of Custer. The work was hard, cooking and cleaning for all of the farm hands, the never-ending chores on a farm, all the while raising babies. "So when I sing those country songs about women struggling to keep things going, you could say I've been there".
Thanks to Doo's prodding (and giving Loretta a guitar as a gift), Loretta started singing in local honky-tonks, first singing songs by other singers and then singing her own songs. Loretta even went to Tacoma (about 2 hours from their home in Custer) to enter ( and win, twice) in Buck Owens' music contests. A man, Norm Burley, heard her sing in Buck's contest and wanted to help them by giving them a contract to make a record. Loretta recorded two of her first songs, Honky Tonk Girl and Whispering Sea.
Loretta and Doo then drove to Nashville, stopping at local radio stations to have them listen to and play her record. As she states, "so we took off in our old mercury, Doo and Me, trying to promote the record. We went down the west coast, too poor to stay in motels, sleeping in the car and eating baloney and cheese sandwiches. I only had one good dress. When we got near a radio station, I'd hop in the back of the car and change into my dress. Then we'd go inside the radio station. " She met and talked with the disc jockeys at each station they stopped. She said, "I remember going into a station in Tucson, Arizona, where the disc jockey was a little boy, same age as me, pimples on his face, greasy hair. He was so nice to me that we used to write letters back and forth until he got into singing, too. Waylon Jennings, that's who it was."
Friends mean the world to Loretta, stating, "the truth is, if you have a girlfriend on your side, somebody who knows the real you and believes in you no matter what, it can make all the difference in the world. It did for me." She's met so many people in her life (before, during and after their and her successes), yet she always thinks she's the least in the company. She said, "I remember the first celebrity I ever saw: remember "Hoss", that big guy on "Bonanza" - Dan Blocker? I just stood in the crowd and got his autograph - told him I was a singer. He was a real nice fellow. I was real sorry when I heard about him dying. " She also stated, "Lordy, I even got to meet Gregory Peck." She's also known for making the way for new artists as well - in fact, The Highwomen made their debut at Loretta's 87th Birthday Party.
Speaking of friends, her best friend was Patsy Cline. They were the same age, had similar backgrounds and just connected right from the start. Loretta sang one of Patsy's songs on the radio one night, right after Patsy had a terrible car wreck - Loretta dedicated it to Patsy. Patsy heard it and sent her husband Charlie to meet Loretta and bring her to visit Patsy in the hospital. Their beautiful friendship was born that day. "Patsy reached out to me. She took me under her wing and became one of my greatest friends in this whole world. She changed my life forever." Loretta's daughter, one of her twin girls, is named Patsy, in remembrance of Patsy Cline.
Her faith and belief in God have been constants in her life. While she says, "dirty sometimes wins over clean in this world, I am sorry to say", she also believes that there is more good in the world than bad. "I know how lucky I've been. I wouldn't have dared to ask God for all He's given me. I'm just grateful for the benefits my family has enjoyed. I didn't do it. I couldn't have done it on my own."
So, let's take some of the lessons that Loretta learned and apply them to our quest to stand for America:
- "To make it you have to be first, great or different." As President Reagan said, "America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere." America is still that shining city. Be big, be bold, make a difference.
- "I ain't got much education, but I got some sense." Education isn't as important as sense, remember that. Learn to think deeply and critically.
- Work hard, no matter what you're working at. "Success don't happen overnight." Talent may come natural, but success takes practice.
- "Nobody can tell you who you are. Stay true to yourself; Ain't nobody can be you but you."
- Have faith in God and give credit where it's due. "I thank God every day for what I have."
- Find ways to help. "I've done everything there is in this business. Maybe there's something else I could do that would help people more."