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5/13/2 Article: The Queen of country music

Loretta Lynn

by Lance Vargas

The title, "Queen of Country Music" has been applied to a number of different lady honkytonkers over the years.

From the deserved (Kitty Wells) to the undeserved (Shania Twain), it seems like anytime a female country singer starts selling records the music media of the day dubs her, "The Queen of Country Music." At least the late and great Tammy Wynette had the luck to be dubbed "The First lady of Country Music" and not simply another "Queen."

Let's set the record straight, right here and right now. In spite of Wells significance, Patsy Cline's superior vocals and Reba McEntire's good looks and commercialism, it is Loretta Lynn who deserves the "Queen" title more than the rest.

Here's why.

First and foremost, "country" means rural and if Lynne's log cabin birthplace in Butcher Holler, Ky. isn't country, then such an area does not exist. Married at the age of 13, pregnant at 14 and a grandmother at the age of 29, Lynne's influence lies deep in the coal mines and working-class society of the southern U.S. and her rootsy country vocals are as down home as sweet potato pie.

Also, while Cline's career was cut short and Wells never made much of a dent in the charts, Lynne has reaped just about every award the business has to offer and a fair share of "lifetime achievement" honors as well. She earned her first hit in 1962, was the very first CMA-winner for female vocalist in 1967 and, as of 2000, had two Kentucky highways and an Illinois school named for her. She also received an honorary doctorate in arts from the University of Kentucky, was a torchbearer for the winter Olympics and was named one of the 100 greatest women of Rock by VH1 (even though she never really recorded any strictly rock recordings).

In a prolific 40-year career, Lynn has often played the voice of the subtle-yet-defiant feminine antagonist to so many male drinking and fighting country songs. "I'm The Other Woman," "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man" and "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)," are representative of the other half of country's most treasured cliché's.

So, when the question of the "Queen of Country Music" comes up, there is only one answer: Loretta Lynn. Loretta Lynn will be performing her country hits May 14, at 7:30 p.m., at the East County Performing Arts Center. For more info, call 619-440-2277.