CMT All-Time Top 40: Loretta Lynn

Country Stars Count Down Their Favorite Artists

Loretta Lynn rose from humble beginnings in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, to be named No. 11 on the list of CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice.

A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is revealed each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

Merle Haggard, Ashley Monroe, Martina McBride, The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert are among the country stars who voted for the "Coal Miner's Daughter" as one of the greatest ever.

"She was real country, and she was real good," Haggard said. "That's the way it hit me right in middle of the chest. People that knew good talent recognized her. If you had a good ear, it would have been hard to miss Loretta."

"Her voice, it still cuts me like a knife every time I hear Loretta sing," Monroe said. "It feels like she is singing from her toenails up, you know? And to hear her sing 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' or she sang about things that would still be controversial to this day -- 'The Pill,' 'Rated X' and all of that stuff. She did all of that without apologizing and said, 'Like me or not, I can only write about things I know.' And I've actually heard Loretta say before, 'You can't write songs unless you've lived life.' That's very true."

McBride praised Lynn's fearlessness with her songs as well but also mentioned the superstar's private side.

"I love Loretta Lynn. I just love her," she said. "I've been fortunate enough to get to know her a little bit over the years, and she's just a national treasure. Everything about her -- her personality, her songwriting, her singing, her performing -- I just feel like we all know her story. And coming from her beginnings and becoming this major country music icon is fascinating to me. She's just so down to earth and normal and sweet and funny. She's so funny."

The Band Perry said Lynn was a direct influence on their group.

"We loved rock 'n' roll because our dad was, like, the rock 'n' roll conscience in the family, but our mother was absolutely the biggest Loretta Lynn fan on planet Earth," Kimberly Perry said. "She would be making breakfast in the morning and have Loretta Lynn albums on.

"I think one of my favorite things about Loretta is that not only was she such a great artist, entertainer and songwriter -- a songwriter who was willing to push the boundaries for her time -- but she was also a mother and such a great lady. And I think, just as a role model for female artists, she still kind of ranks supreme in that world."

It may be no big surprise to her longtime fans, but Lambert could barely get through her description of Lynn without crying. She says if it weren't for Lynn, none of country's female stars would be here.

"If there was no Loretta, I don't know if any of the girls on that list would be on that list," Lambert said, referring to CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice. "She is the one with the balls! (laughs) She is the one that laid out the path for all of us to be brave and to say what we want to say and have a voice. She's somebody that just absolutely is who she is, and she talks like she sings and she sings like she talks.

"I got to be close with her a few different times and hang out with her at her house, and I was an emotional wreck. I think I was just overwhelmed being in her presence because the more you're around her, the more you start to think about all that she's accomplished. And then I thought, 'I'm standing here, and the reason I'm standing here is because of this woman. I got to be a country music singer, and it's a lot because of this woman and everything that she did.'"

Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.

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