by Shawn Garza
Photo thanks to the gracious courtesy of By Scott Schram (http://schram.net/ ] (http://www.flickr.com/photos/schram/19988923/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
On June 6th, 2014, I had the honor of basking in the light of a true lady when a queen visited Oklahoma. At about 9:00 p.m., Loretta Lynn walked out onto the stage at the Sugar Creek Casino Event Center in Hinton, OK, and a sold-out crowd lost their minds. As she emerged on stage singing “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore” it was obvious to all that Ms. Lynn’s 83 years have not in any way diminished her voice as it rang out across the hall like the pealing of bells echoing across the “holler.”
I am not one bit ashamed to say that I got choked up a bit hearing these songs I grew up with, thanks to my Mama, being sung live by the legend I have waited more than 40 years to see. Memories of my childhood and of Mama and me singing these songs loudly welled up within me, and I saw why, after all these years, the love for Loretta Lynn has not waned.
Many members of Ms. Lynn’s family were a part of the show. Her son Ernest Ray sang a couple of songs and her twin daughters Peggy and Patsy, a.k.a., The Lynns, sang a set. Even her great nephew was helping out selling merchandise. Loretta’s 11 year old granddaughter Emmy Rose, an amazing talent who can sing beautifully and plays guitar, charmed the audience as she sang her set under the proud, watchful gaze of her grandmother. This was definitely a family affair.
After her first set, Ms. Lynn asked the audience if we would mind if she sat down. I believe every one there would have hopped up to offer her a chair, but, of course, she brought her own. She talked to the audience, made jokes with us, told stories, and whenever one of the numerous shouts of “We love you, Loretta,” would ring out, she would inevitably answer, “I love you, too.”
And therein lies some of the magic of a Loretta Lynn show. While it was definitely a production, it most certainly didn’t feel like one. Even though Loretta was visiting the Sooner State, the audience felt as though they were visiting her home for a family gathering. Loretta made the audience feel that for a short, glorious time we were part of an inner circle of friends, part of her family. She is devoid of arrogance, haughtiness and pretense. One gets the feeling that if she thought it would be appropriate, she would wear her jeans and boots as she does on her ranch.
Every member of the audience, young or old, felt loved and appreciated by the legend who came from extremely humble roots, who had experienced hard times and the deaths of her husband Doo and two children Betty Sue and Jack Benny, who riled and fought back against critics when she advocated for women through her songs “The Pill” and “Rated X,” and whose music reflected her life and the lives of millions of fans.
There’s an honesty to Loretta Lynn that is sadly missing in many of today’s entertainers, an accessibility that holds her fans close to her. The humble Coal Miner’s Daughter has in many ways never left Butcher Hollow, and her obvious love for home and family, her fighting spirit, and her “Y’all come” embrace of her fans resonated throughout the hall of Okies who welcomed her.