Did You Know? American Idol’s Emmy Russell Already Made Her Opry Debut — For Loretta Lynn’s Birthday!

emmy russell and Loretta Lynn

American Idol introduced Emmy Russell to millions, but true country music fans were well aware of the young songstress because she already made her Grand Ole Opry debut. And she marked the milestone for Loretta Lynn’s birthday.

For those who don’t know yet, Loretta is Emmy’s grandmother. And in life, she was one of Emmy’s biggest supporters. She ensured the now 25-year-old was raised around music and even helped Emmy get her foot in the door by lending her the stage during her performances.

Emmy Russell as a toddler with Grandmother Loretta Lynn.
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Loretta Lynn passed away on Oct. 4, 2022, at the age of 90. She was survived by four of her six children and her 25 grandchildren. She was bonded with her entire family, but she was particularly close with Emmy. So when Loretta’s 91st birthday came around, Emmy stood in the same famed wooden circle Loretta once sang in to pay tribute to her late grandmother.

Emmy made her official Opry debut on April 13, 2023, which was the night before Loretta’s birthday. While playing a guitar Loretta gave Emmy on her 15th birthday, she performed her original song, Memaw’s Guitar.

Loretta Lynn made her Grand Ole Opry debut on October 15, 1960.

Emmy Russell Remembers Loretta Lynn During American Idol Audition

Emmy Russell also had an unofficial Opry debut shortly after her grandmother’s passing when she took the stage with Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, to sing for Loretta Lynn’s CMT memorial broadcast. The duo sang Lay Me Down, which Loretta originally recorded with Willie in 2016. The duet earned Emmy Russell her first CMT Music Awards nomination.

In an Instagram post ahead of her April Opry show, Emmy shared that she once ran from her “family heritage” because she was determined to forge her “own path.” But now she’s realizing that Loretta has and will always be a part of herself and her career, and she fully embraces that as she tries to make a bigger name for herself on American Idol.

“I was thinking about my grandma,” she told the judges after auditioning with her single Skinny. “But I was also like ‘Emmy, she’s with you and now it’s your turn. I think I’m more like her now than whenever I was trying to be like her. I’m really excited.”

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