Loretta Lynn’s Granddaughter Emmy Russell Stuns American Idol Judges with Emotional Audition

Russell left her audition in a puddle of tears.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

February 25, 2024


8:56 pm

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Emmy Russell, Loretta Lynn; Photos Courtesy American Idol YouTube

Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter, Emmy Russell, won over the hearts of American Idol judges and viewers alike with her heartfelt audition, which showcased her vocal talents, songwriting abilities, and authenticity. 

Loretta Lynn’s Granddaughter Auditions For American Idol

Russell, wearing minimal makeup, a green hoodie, jeans, and sneakers, first entered the American Idol audition room quite timidly. She introduced herself, revealing she is a 24-year-old (now 25) singer/songwriter from Nashville, TN. 

As the judges pulled more information from her, she revealed herself to be the granddaughter of country music icon, Loretta Lynn. 

Loretta Lynn with Emmy Russell; Photo Courtesy American Idol, YouTube
Loretta Lynn with Emmy Russell; Photo Courtesy American Idol, YouTube

“Growing up, I have sang music my entire life, so I just love writing.”

One of the judges asked, “Where do you sing” and she shared, “I don’t really sing out as much anymore, but growing up I sang on the road. My grandma’s a country singer, so I kind of grew up singing.” 

The Judges Were Shocked

“Who is your grandma,” Bryan questioned. 

Russell revealed, “Loretta Lynn.” 

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry; Photo Courtesy American Idol, YouTube
Lionel Richie, Katy Perry; Photo Courtesy American Idol, YouTube

The judges appeared to be shocked. In fact, Katy Perry’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head, and Lionel Richie shouted, “Your grandma is WHAT?”! 

Seconds later, the audition clip cut to showcase personal photos of Emmy Russell’s childhood with her grandma, or “memaw” as she referred to her. 

A Trip To Loretta Lynn’s Ranch In Hurricane Mills, Tennessee

Fans were then taken inside the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee where Lynn resided with her family.   

“She’s one of the biggest country music singers of all time, but to me, she’s just my grandma,” Russell sweetly said. 

Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless
Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

The video then cut back to the audition room where Russell stood in front of the judges. 

“I think there’s a reason why I think I am a little timid and I think it’s because I want to own my voice,” she explained, later adding, “That’s why I want to challenge myself and come out here and really step in and be like, okay, come on Emmy.”

Perry encouraged the young singer, telling her, “Emmy, grandma was a great singer, but she had her own style. If you got your own style, then you got your own lane.”

Watch Emmy Russell’s American Idol Audition

YouTube video

Original Song Called “Skinny”

When it was time to perform, Russell revealed that she would be singing an original song called “Skinny.” It was written about an eating disorder. 

Sitting down at the grand piano in the corner of the room, Russell gave the performance her all, earning nods of approval from the judges. The raw, emotional lyrics clearly resonated with the judges and her voice undoubtedly stood out among the other contestants.

“Emmy, you are an a-plus songwriter. So is your grandma. You got the gift. 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,” Perry assured her. 

Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless
Emmy Russell; Photo by Disney/Eric McCandless

The “Firework” singer then encouraged Russell to get loud and proud and take a stance to showcase who she is. 

On To Hollywood

After earning a unanimous yes among the judges, Emmy Russell broke down in tears.

In the next clip, Russell reflected on her audition saying, “I was thinking about my grandma, but I was also like Emmy. She’s with you. Now, it’s your turn. I think I’m more like her now than I was whenever I was trying to be like her… I’m really excited.”

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.