For many country music artists, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium is the most sacred venue on the planet. The intimate, 2,600-seat theater has been around since the 1800s and was the longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry concert series.
Now, it’s the permanent home of a historic statue of one of the genre’s most beloved stars.
On Oct. 20, the venue unveiled a bronze likeness of Loretta Lynn, who made her Opry debut on the Ryman’s stage six decades ago. In fact, the statue made its debut nearly 60 years to the day after Lynn first sang there on Oct. 15, 1960.
Lynn’s impressive list of genre-defining classics includes traditional favorites, like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” tough-woman anthems, like “Fist City” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” and more progressive tracks that were considered controversial in their day, like “The Pill” and “Rated ‘X’.”
The statue, which was created by artist Ben Watts, is part of a permanent outdoor installation on the grounds of the Ryman, called the Icon Walk. It’s the first one to honor a woman and stands near similar likenesses of late country icons Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens.
Lynn, who is 88 years old, was unable to attend the unveiling ceremony but wrote a statement that was read aloud.
“Many years, I’ve stood onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, and there’s no place like it,” she wrote, according to Taste of Country. “It means so much to me to have the statue … One day soon I’m gonna get to come to the Ryman and see it for myself.”
The impressive honor was hardly the first that will keep Lynn’s legacy alive for decades to come. In 1980, her autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” was made into an Academy Award-winning movie starring Sissy Spacek.
Before that, the singer was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at a ceremony in 1978.
Not bad for a girl who was born in a cabin on a hill in “Butcher Holler.”