Loretta Lynn's granddaughter Emmy Russell touts her own music chops on 'American Idol'

Alexandra Del Rosaria, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Late country star Loretta Lynn‘s passion for singing lives on in her granddaughter, who tried her hand at music stardom on “American Idol.”

Emmy Russell, the 24-year-old daughter of actor Patsy Lynn and Philip Russell, performed original music for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan during her audition, which aired Sunday on ABC. Russell surprised the judging trio by revealing her musical ancestry but said she wants to move past her grandmother’s lasting legacy.

“I think there’s a reason why I think I’m a little timid and I think it’s because I want to own my voice,” said Russell, whose quiet demeanor stuck with the judges. “I want to challenge myself and come out here and really step in.”

Kaya Stewart in a burgundy gown standing behind Dave Stewart in a black hat, sunglasses and a black suit

Russell treated the judging trio to a sample of her song, “Skinny,” a vulnerable ballad inspired by her experience with an eating disorder. To Perry, Russell is “an A+ songwriter.”

“So was your grandma, and you got the gift,” the “California Gurls” singer added. “ I don’t think you need to compare yourself to what grandma was. You’re totally different.”

Russell also received praise from Richie and Bryan, who commended her for channeling her story into song and encouraged her to have more confidence. “We just gotta lift you up and get you more confident,” Bryan said before agreeing with his co-judges to send a teary Russell out to Hollywood.


Russell’s shot at stardom comes two years after Lynn died on Oct. 4, 2022. The “Coal Miner’s Daughter” country star died of natural causes at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90. Lynn was a trailblazer in country music, known for writing songs that challenged outdated perceptions about women and brought once-taboo topics including birth control and divorce to the forefront.

Sunday’s episode also featured Russell’s family, who eagerly awaited the results outside of the audition room. Patsy Lynn, who created the short-lived singing duo The Lynns with twin sister Peggy Lynn, told the “Idol” team her daughter “just wanted to do this honestly.”

She added: “I think when you come from a musical family, the shadow is so big. How do I fill those shoes? Well, the thing is, you don’t. You make your own shadow.”

After receiving her ticket to Hollywood, Russell said she accepted that her career is underway — and that her grandmother would be with her in spirit. “I think I’m more like her now than I was when I was trying to be like her,” she said. “I’m really excited.”


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