NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The story of Loretta Lynn's first experience with the Grand Ole Opry five decades ago sounds a little like the storyline from one of her classic songs.
Lynn celebrated her 50th anniversary with country music's keystone showcase on Tuesday night in front of a standing room-only crowd at the Opry House. An emotional Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annies, Lynn's sister Crystal Gayle, Lee Ann Womack and Trace Adkins were among the stars to perform for Lynn, who sat in the front row wearing a gold-sequined gown and a bashful smile.
Lynn shared her first memories of the Opry with reporters at a news conference before the show.
"Well me and my husband got into town the night before and we spent the night in the car out in front of the Grand Ole Opry" at Ryman Auditorium, Lynn said during a news conference before the celebration of her 50th anniversary on the Opry. "And we slept and the next morning of course we didn't have any money, so the next morning we divided a doughnut."
The salutes to Lynn were heartfelt. Lambert recounted her first conversation with Lynn in the 80-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member's kitchen and fought back tears during the news conference. Womack remembered that pile of cassette tapes that kept a lonely Texas teen company.
Angaleena Presley of Pistol Annies said she lost it the second that the trio stepped out on stage during soundcheck, forcing two trips to the makeup chair.
"For me it's like I could die tomorrow and I've already been in heaven tonight," Presley said. "I'm from where Loretta's from (in Kentucky) and I'm a coal miner's daughter and I grew up doing dishes to her records with my mom and have loved her since I was a little girl. I remember coming to the Opry when I was 17 and I saw her and I was standing in the front row just hoping and dreaming I'd be there some day. And tonight she's going to be in the front row listening to me sing one of her songs. I'm just so tickled to be here. I mean this is just it for me."
It was the first appearance on the Opry for the Annies and Lynn said it's a night that will resonate for them forever — just like it has with her.
"The Grand Ole Opry is different and I think any Grand Ole Opry member will say that," Lynn said. "When you go on the Opry it's just absolutely a different feeling and it's something that you'll never feel again."
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