Meet Emmy Russell: Loretta Lynn’s Granddaughter Set To Shine on American Idol

Russell aspires to carve out her own journey while drawing inspiration from her grandmother, Loretta Lynn, and her aunt, Crystal Gayle.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

February 19, 2024

Share on:

Emmy Russell; Photo via Instagram, Loretta Lynn; Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music

Emmy Russell, the granddaughter of country music legend Loretta Lynn, will compete on this season of American Idol

Loretta Lynn’s Granddaughter On American Idol

The news was revealed following Sunday’s Idol premiere when a teaser showcased a preview of Russell’s upcoming audition. In the video, an aspiring young singer tells the judges, “My grandma’s a country singer.” 

When Idol judge Lionel Richie learned that she was referring to none other than the late Loretta Lynn, he questions, “Your grandma is — what?”

Fans will have to tune in to American Idol on Sunday to watch her audition to see what happens.

Who Is Emmy Russell?

As the daughter of Patsy Lynn Russell (one of Loretta Lynn’s twin daughters) and her husband Phillip, 25-year-old Emmy Russell is ready to follow in her grandma’s footsteps. Emmy Russell is also the niece of country music icon Crystal Gayle.  

Patsy Lynn Russell, Loretta Lynn, Emmy Russell; Photo Courtesy Instagram
Patsy Lynn Russell, Loretta Lynn, Emmy Russell; Photo Courtesy Instagram

Why Did Emmy Russell Audition For American Idol?

She is no stranger to music. Growing up in a musically inclined family, Russell decided to audition for American Idol with hopes to forge her own path, in a way that was different from her grandmother’s road to success. 

“I just wanted to be around other young creatives like me,” Russell told The Kingston Springs Gazette. “I think I just like the hard work of it, and it was outside the traditional way that my grandma had — which is a publishing deal, get the record deal.”

She admitted that auditioning for the show took her out of her comfort zone. 

“I wanted something out there and fun and just forced me to do it because I’m so shy and scared of going for it,” the American Idol hopeful stated.

Lukas Nelson, Emmy Russell; Photo by Getty Images For CMT
Lukas Nelson, Emmy Russell; Photo by Getty Images For CMT

Emmy Russell Honored Loretta Lynn At Her Public Memorial Service

Russell brought her musical talents to the small screen when she honored her late grandmother with a performance at her public memorial service, Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration Of The Life & Music of Loretta Lynn, airing on CMT. Russell teamed up with Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, to deliver a memorable rendition of “Lay Me Down,” the first song Loretta and Willie ever recorded together. 

They earned a standing ovation for their performance, which took place at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. 

YouTube video

Has Emmy Russell Performed At The Grand Ole Opry?

She later made her official Grand Ole Opry debut, performing a song called “Memaw’s Guitar” in the coveted Opry circle. 

Prior to the debut, Russell took to social media to share her excitement over stepping onto the Opry stage, which happened to take place on Loretta Lynn’s birthday. 

“It’s pretty cool to start your career by thanking the person, my grandma and honoring her by this being my first time alone with a guitar since her passing… I use to run from my family heritage and wanna make my own path,” she wrote. “I feel a deep conviction to thank, accept, and celebrate her, cause she believed in me from the start before anyone did. Not ashamed anymore. She was never ashamed of me… I’m a granddaughter, and I’m Emmy… it’s all apart of me! This is the start of a beautiful journey. Couldn’t be more excited.” 

Last year, Lynn attended the CMT Music Awards as a nominee for her performance with Lukas Nelson. While on the red carpet, she revealed the best advice she ever received from her grandmother. 

“The most advice that she has given me throughout the years was to love God,” Russell told Fox News Digital. “She was such a lover of God and I think it was more of, ‘Listen to him and follow his voice.’”

American Idol will return to ABC on Sunday, February 25 at 8/7c. 

Share on:

Lauren Jo Black

Written by

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.