Loretta Lynn’s gifted granddaughter shocks ‘American Idol’ judges in audition


Coming from a stock of fierce performers, Nashville’s Emmy Russell had no trouble grabbing the attention of all three judges while auditioning for American Idol.

The young woman, who’s drawing inspiration from one of country music’s most iconic stars, is the granddaughter of the late Loretta Lynn.

Channeling the energy of her legendary relative, the young woman performed an original song for her audition, and after her teary-eyed performance, she said of her “memaw”, “‘Emmy, she’s with you, now it’s your turn.’”

When Loretta Lynn died in October 2022, she left behind a legacy of music and a large musical family, which includes 25 surviving grandchildren.

One of the kids who call her ‘memaw’ is Emmy Russell, 25, the daughter of Patsy Lynn (now Russell).

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Twins Patsy and Peggy, who share the spot as the youngest of the Loretta Lynn children, carved their own path in country music as The Lynns, the duo who in the late 1990s were recognized with award nominations from the Country Music Association (CMA).

Patsy – who also appeared in TV shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and Intimate Portrait – raised her daughter on Lynn’s ranch just outside of Nashville, where Emmy grew up under the heavy musical influence of the highly acclaimed country singer.  

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Lynn’s influence on her granddaughter was showcased in 2022, when Emmy teamed up with Lucas Nelson, the son of Willie Nelson, and performed a duet at a star-studded memorial concert for her grandmother.

The two sang “Lay Me Down” from the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter, a biographical musical based on the life of Lynn.

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The next year, Emmy – also the great-niece of Lynn’s sister, Crystal Gayle – made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry, honoring her grandmother with a song called “Memaw’s Guitar.”

Though her catalog of music right now is limited, Emmy is working on making it larger.

“I’m not trying to please anyone other than myself,” Emmy told The Tennessean in February 24.  “But if people find themselves and their journey in my songs, that will allow me to make this my work for the rest of my life.”

‘She’s just grandma’

Emmy’s mom Patsy stood outside the audition room, waiting for her daughter to emerge from the audition for American Idol with her golden ticket.

Speaking of daughter, Patsy said Emmy “wanted to do this honestly. ‘This is who I am, this is what I do and this is my heart.’”

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Meanwhile, after marching into the room for her audition, Emmy explains to judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, that “growing up, I sang on the road with…my grandma is a country singer.”

“Who was your grandma?” asked Bryan.

“Loretta Lynn,” she replies with a great deal of humility.

Taken aback by this information, Bryan gasps and Ritchie, equally shocked, chimes in saying, “your grandma is…what?!”

“She’s one of the biggest country music singers of all time, but to me she’s just grandma,” Emmy said on the episode that aired February 25, 2024.

Performing for the judges, Emmy effortlessly tapped at the keys of the piano and belted out her original song, “Skinny,” which tells a story about struggling with weight and eating disorders.

The judges were blown away.

“I think I am a little timid, and I think it is because I want to own my voice. That’s why I want to challenge myself,” Emmy explains about her decision to perform an original song.

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Her emotional performance, where she’s later seen in tears, left the judges showering her with praise.

“You’re an A+ songwriter. So was your grandma. You got the gift,” Perry said after Emmy’s impressive performance. “I don’t think you need to compare yourself to what Grandma was. You’re totally different. You shouldn’t give yourself all that pressure.”

Stepping out of the giant shadow cast by her memaw, and forging her own artistic path, Emmy said, “I was thinking about my grandma but was also like, ‘Emmy, she’s with you, now it’s your turn.”

Learning she’s off to Hollywood to compete on American Idol,  Emmy adds, “I think I’m more like her now than I was whenever I was trying to be like her.”

Emmy Lynn is such a talented young woman and fans of American Idol are blessed with the opportunity to watch her grow as a performer.

What do you think of Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter? Please share your comments with us and then share this story so we can hear what others have to say!

Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter joins Willie Nelson’s son for chill-inducing tribute performance to late grandma


  • Kelly Clarkson and Dwayne Johnson pay tribute to Loretta Lynn with beautiful rendition of ‘Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’
  • Loretta Lynn sings ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ with George Strait, Tanya Tucker and others in iconic performance

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