1980 marked a blockbuster year when it came to movies and country music, with the release of 9 to 5 (featuring Dolly Parton alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin), Honeysuckle Rose (featuring Willie Nelson) and Coal Miner’s Daughter, a biopic focused on the life and career of Loretta Lynn. Ahead of this weekend’s Academy Awards, we look back at 1981, when Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Loretta Lynn were celebrated at the Academy Awards.
In 1981, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton each earned an Academy Awards nomination for Best Original Song. Parton was nominated as the sole writer of her hit “9 to 5.”
Meanwhile, Nelson was nominated as the sole writer of “On The Road Again,” which was included in the movie Honeysuckle Rose. Though neither song won that year (the win ultimately went to the smash hit “Fame”), both songs became signature hits for their respective artist-writers.
That same year, actress Sissy Spacek won the Academy Award for Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. The film was also nominated for Best Picture during the 1981 ceremony.
“I started to work on ’Coal Miner’s Daughter’ with a bunch of strangers and I finished working on ’Coal Miner’s Daughter’ with a bunch of friends,” Spacek said during her acceptance speech before thanking Lynn and the film’s crew and her fellow castmates.
Over the years, several songs either written or performed by country artists have earned nominations and/or wins in the Academy Awards’ Best Original Song category, and a few are highlighted below:
In 1953, “High Noon,” performed by Tex Ritter for the movie High Noon, won the Best Original Song category.
In 1970, “True Grit,” from the movie of the same name and performed by Glen Campbell, earned the song’s writers Don Black and Elmer Bernstein a nomination in the category. Campbell also starred alongside John Wayne in the film, where Campbell portrayed the character La Boeuf.
In 1976, “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine from the film Nashville took home the Best Original Song honor.
In 1998, the Diane Warren-penned track “How Do I Live,” featured in the movie Con Air, was nominated for Best Original Song. Trisha Yearwood performed the song in the movie.
Allison Moorer and Gwil Owen were nominated in the category in 1999 for “A Soft Place to Fall” from The Horse Whisperer. Diane Warren earned another nomination in 2002 for “There’ll You’ll Be,” recorded by Faith Hill for the Pearl Harbor soundtrack.
Parton earned her second nomination in the category in 2006 for penning “Travelin’ Thru” from Transamerica. In 2011, country songwriters Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges, and Tom Douglas earned a nomination for “Coming Home” from Country Strong.
Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond earned a nomination in 2015 for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from the Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me documentary.