Last night was Loretta Lynn’s 85th birthday and she celebrated in style at the Mother Church aka the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry. With a fantastic string of guests, a classic blue Loretta-style gown and a voice that still sounds strong and beautiful, the night was a road trip of musical fun and Loretta had the wheel.
The evening began with Shawn Camp and Friends, the opening band, who had a strong country sound. Shaun worked on Loretta’s last record with her and now as the opener showed his own skill. His deep voice has a classic sound and with a strong band to back him up, including a genius of a fiddle player, Shawn Camp was entertaining to watch.
Next, Loretta’s daughter took the stage to welcome everyone to her mother’s 85th birthday bash and to promote her book of lyrics. After that, two of Loretta’s grand daughters each played a song. The first leaned towards a bit of rock-country and the second granddaughter, only a senior in high school, sang a song about a guitar given to her by her grandmother or “me-maw” called Unwinding the Strings. It was beautiful and mature beyond her years.
Next, Loretta took the stage to giant applause and chants of “happy birthday”. She looked genuinely happy to take the Ryman stage again (and she said she was several times). Ad libbing her set list, Loretta played hits like You Ain’t Women Enough to Take My Man and Fist City along side classic gospel tunes and hits she used to do with Conway Twitty. Admittedly, she played a couple of songs twice but this realness about Loretta and her age made her fans love her all the more.
Guests through out the night ranged from Martina McBride (who came on stage to sing Loretta Happy Birthday and present her with flowers but who ended up staying on stage for a few songs) to two of Loretta’s sisters (who were hilarious and fantastic). All the while, sassy-ass Loretta seemed to be having a great time. That sass I speak of is possibly the best part about seeing her perform. To happy birthday wishes coming from the crowd through out the night, Loretta would insist it’s no big deal, she’s only 26 or that her age would now go backwards. This powerful woman who was far ahead of her time though still old fashioned in a lot of ways, still has no problem telling her all-male band they’re messing up or saying she can’t remember the lyrics. Loretta is what she is.
The evening ended on Coal Miner’s Daughter and with that, Loretta brought down the house at Ryman Auditorium once more.
Peace, love and history.