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Emmy Russell Remembers Favorite Things About ‘Memaw’ Loretta Lynn

Photo from Emmy Russell’s Instagram

Emmy Russell Remembers Favorite Things About ‘Memaw’ Loretta Lynn

By Movieguide® Contributor

Emmy Russell made headlines when she appeared on AMERICAN IDOL in February, not just because of her “beautiful“ voice but also because she is the granddaughter of country legend Loretta Lynn.

She recalled some of her favorite things about her “Memaw” in this week’s episode of Southern Living’s “Biscuits and Jam” podcast.

“I call her Memaw,” she told podcast host Sid Evans. “I grew up going on the road with her. So my mom, she actually was in a duo country group called The Lynns. And they were on the road with her touring.”

“And my mom became her manager, so whenever I was born, they kinda quit doing their out in Nashville thing and went on tour with her and opened up. And I was just on the road as a baby, as soon as I was out…I was actually born on my grandma’s and my grandpa’s anniversary. So, I was a premature kid, think God was kinda like, ‘I’m gonna send her on the day that they got married just to show her that they’re alike,’” she said.

Movieguide® previously reported on Russell’s AMERICAN IDOL performance:

Country singer Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter, Emmy Russell, sang an original song at her AMERICAN IDOL audition, which aired on Feb. 26, and blew the judges away.  

“You are an A+ songwriter. So is your grandma. You got the gift,” Judge Katy Perry said after Russell sang her song, “Skinny,” about eating disorders. 

“My dear, you have promise,” Judge Lionel Richie said. “And I like your promise. Each one of us is trying to battle something that we’re trying to overcome. In your case, you have big shoes.” 

Russell began to sing at two years old while on the road with her family.

But when at her Memaw’s home, she “loved the kitchen. All the cool wallpapers. They always had these really neat wallpapers, and like this little butter churner that I used to always play with as a kid, and I love the columns outside. I would always play around the columns of the house.”

“Memaw actually had a house behind that house. So, I spent, primarily, a lot of my childhood in the house behind the house that she was raised in,” she said. “It was so cool and so fun.”

She also spent some time exploring Lynn’s closet.

“Memaw, she doesn’t care. She’s like, ‘Oh, honey. Go ahead. You can wear that any time.’ But you know, everyone else was like, ‘Don’t touch that. That’s like, prize winner,’” Russel said.

“And I’m like, ‘It’s just a dress.’ But for her, she just saw it as a dress. But everyone saw it as something special. Which it is, but… I’ve tried on a few things,” she laughed.

Lynn’s assistant, Tim Cobb, made the singer’s iconic dresses.

“And he actually passed away like a month after she passed away,” Russell said. “You know what’s funny? Memaw never cooked for me or anyone. It was always Tim. Tim did it all.”

“But now, did she have a cooking book? Yes. But did I ever get to taste any of her cooking? No. So unfair.”

Lynn loved banana pudding—her favorite and Russell’s, too.

“She loved banana pudding too, but I’d always make her peanut butter milkshakes. So peanut butter milkshakes, brownie brittle and banana pudding. Those are her three top favorite desserts,” Russell said.

The holidays at the Lynn house were full of family and kids running around.

“And then everyone would get their turn to say hi to Memaw. And then we would like, open up presents and give her hugs. It was just like a big family celebration,” Russell remembered.

“So many cousins. I don’t even know all my cousin’s names. I know their faces but so many. So much family shows up,” the singer said.

When the family got together, music faded into the background.

“It was more just, everyone kinda like, laughing and being around each other. There wasn’t really just music, probably ’cause everyone does music all the time. We’re like, “That’s the last thing we wanna do. We wanna just hang out and talk,’” Russell said.

She started to write music in the second grade.

“It was just about math and how I just failed,” she said about her first song. “But then I was like, ‘Keep trying again.’ But then whenever I was about nine, I wrote a song called “The Mirror Can Lie.”

“The hook was, like, ‘The mirror can lie. It doesn’t show you what’s inside.’ So, I was really always attracted to, like, identity, finding out who you are. And I don’t know why. Now I look back at it, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that makes sense now.’ But I was always about those kinds of songs,” she said.

Russell’s dad gave her a “baby” Martin guitar at age four, and then at age 15, her Memaw gifted her one of her own guitars.

At Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Lynn told Russell, “‘You’re the one that can do it.’ She always thought I had this spark about me ever since I was a little kid, and she felt that she needed to give me the guitar as the torch, in a way, or the mantle.”

“And Lord knows it if I can’t hold that. That’s too much. But she passed me down her guitar when I was 15,” she said.

“She wrote like, all these…’Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin,’ just these like, big songs on that guitar…it holds a lot of history,” she said.

Now, the guitar sits in Lynn’s museum.

“When I want to go get it, I can,” Russell laughed. “When I need some extra mojo. That means when I really need some extra pressure. I like, very rarely play it, because…yeah. It’s a pretty mojo guitar.”

Russell talked with PEOPLE about why she wrote “Skinny,” the song she performed at her AMERICAN IDOL audition: “I struggled a lot with physical beauty image pressures and social media. I kind of grew up in the spotlight and so I was always very image-conscious.”

She developed an eating disorder while in high school.

“When I wrote ‘Skinny,’ I felt a weight of responsibility [and thought], ‘I don’t need to go back to this,” Russell said. I know it’s bad for me.’

“And so the more that I sing it, it’s almost like the more that I’m delivering myself, and I’m like, ‘Oh, okay. Now I got that feeling out. Now I am above it.’ Beauty from ashes, that’s music for me. It’s like the ashes are the pain, and I make something out of it,” she said.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.