The Loretta Lynn Memorial aired live on Sunday evening (10/30) on CMT. It featured a huge lineup of country music superstars paying tribute in song or just words of love and stories about the country music icon. Every audience member was given a beautiful program with her handwritten words to “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on the back and a fan with Lynn’s photo as they entered the Opry House.

(Photo Nancy Brooks)

With her extensive extended family taking up most of the center floor section of the Grand Ole Opry House, the show started with Wynonna Judd, Larry Strickland (Noami Judd’s husband), and the Gaither Brothers singing a mind-blowing rendition of “How Great Though Art.”

Here are the highlights of the memorial tribute:

  • Keith Urban came out with just his Ganjo (guitar/banjo instrument he created), and before he sang Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ At Country,” he said: “It’s an honor to be here tonight, and I’m very, very grateful that I get a chance to show my respects to Miss Loretta. I was her date for the 2005 CMT Awards, and that was one of the most memorable evenings that I would get with somebody like Miss Loretta.” He continued, “In 2018, I got this call that I want to share with you.” He held up his phone to play a message from Lynn, saying, “Hey Keith, this is Loretta, and I’m having a birthday, and I want to see your butt there.” Urban laughs and adds, “So you bet I was there. I came running tonight, and I will always come running for Miss Loretta.”
  • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill shared some memories of Lynn with the crowd, and throughout their six minutes dialog, Faith broke down several times and held back tears, stopping many times to catch her breath. Hill said in closing, “I am proud to have the privilege of following you down the musical path you blazed for all of us.” McGraw added, “I just wanna say thank you, Loretta, thank you.”
  • Taylor Swift said in part in a video message, “The way that she exercised brutal honesty every time she sat down to write a song, I think, changed music forever and paved the way for every songwriter that is trying to be truthful and honest today.”
  • Alan Jackson sang a song he wrote for his mother, “Where Your Heart Has Always Been,” for Loretta. Before he sang on a stool, he said, “Loretta was always very sweet to me. I never told her this, but she reminded me a lot of my mama; they looked a little alike, but their personalities were a lot alike; they were both outgoing, tell you exactly what’s on their mind, but very sweet and genuine.”
  • Dolly Parton sent a video message about Loretta and herself, saying, “We loved country music, and we always talked about how we were so happy that we grew up the way we did so we could write all those wonderful songs about our lives. I mean, what songs could be better than ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter.’ Now we know Loretta is resting in peace, she’s left a wonderful legacy, she’s left a wonderful memory, she was the best friend anybody could ever have and one of the greatest artists ever.”
  • George Strait made a rare Nashville appearance to sing Lynn’s smash hit “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin On Your Mind).” He said before he performed, “I am really happy to be a part of this celebration of life and memorial for Miss Loretta Lynn tonight. Such an icon in the music that we all love, and that’s country music. She was a trailblazer, original, beautiful, kind, sweet, and one hell of a songwriter and singer, and entertainer. I will miss her dearly. God bless her family that’s here tonight, and God bless Loretta Lynn.”

Also, throughout the show, Loretta, who seemed to have prepared for the event before her death, spoke about her life and thanked fans for giving her and her children a good life and for the support for all the years she lived in country music.

Other performances came from rocker Jack White, Tanya Tucker, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, Highwomen, and more. Lynn’s daughter Patsy closed out the show by thanking everyone for loving her mama and celebrating her life.