Loretta Lynn is a true icon of country music, so it's only fitting that she be chosen as part of the Ryman's Icon Walk. To commemorate Lynn's long and successful career, a bronze statue of the Kentucky native was unveiled outside of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville this week, joining statues of her fellow country music legends Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens.
Lynn made her Opry debut on stage at the Ryman in 1960 and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1962. "I will never forget the morning Dolittle and I pulled in and parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium for the very first time," the singer shared in a statement, via The Country Daily. "It was 1960 and I had a No. 14 record on the charts called 'I'm A Honky Tonk Girl.' My dream, like thousands of other singers, was just to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. Being a member of the Grand Ole Opry has been one of the greatest honors of my life. For many years I've stood on the stage of the Ryman and there's no place like it."
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"Now they're unveiling this statue in my honor," she continued. "It's like I'm going to get to be there for many more years to come. It means so much to have the statue and to be a part of all of these wonderful artists. One day soon I'm gonna get to come up there and see it for myself. But for today I want to say thank you and I love each and every one of you for thinking of me."
The statues of Monroe and Dickens were unveiled in 2017 as part of the Ryman's 125th anniversary and took one year each for artist Ben Watts to create. Lynn's statue stands at the northwest corner of the Ryman near its driveway on Fifth Avenue.
After Lynn's husband bought her a guitar in 1953, she learned to play and started her own band before cutting "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl" in 1960. She went on to become one of the biggest names in country music, tackling important issues in her music and earning legions of fans for her honesty and talent. The 88-year-old has earned 24 No. 1 singles and 11 No. 1 albums and is the most awarded female country recording artist. She has been named CMA Entertainer of the Year, ACM Entertainer of the Year and ACM Artist of the decade and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, among her numerous accolades.