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In her own words: Documentary tells Loretta Lynn’s story through groundbreaking musician’s voice

Country music legend Loretta Lynn is the focus of a new PBS documentary called “Loretta Lynn: My Story in My Words.” (Courtesy of David McClister)

As a filmmaker, Barbara Hall is used to rejection and things not going her way.

When she was approached about doing a documentary about Loretta Lynn, she knew it was a long shot.

Turns out she was pleasantly surprised.

“I do thank my lucky stars that it was a quick ‘yes,’ ” she says of the country legend’s willingness to do the documentary. “She’s 88 years old, and COVID is around. If I were her, I would be saying ‘no’ to everything. But Loretta has spunk and doesn’t shy away from anything.”

Hall spent months with Lynn.

The end result is “Loretta Lynn: My Story in My Words,” which premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, on New Mexico PBS Channel 5.1. It will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, on Channel 9.1 and again at 1 a.m. Thursday, March 4 on Channel 5.1.

Filmmaker Barbara Hall

Over the time spent with the country legend, Hall learned many things, including that Lynn doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder.

“She’s grateful for the career she has,” Hall says. “You have to remember that Loretta started her career with four kids and seven years of marriage under her belt. Her goal was to make it and she used her work ethic to her advantage.”

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Lynn writing her classic song “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

The song sparked a book and a feature film.

Like so many other songs written by Lynn, the lyrics told the story of her life and spoke to women who struggled to make ends meet.

Hall says the documentary takes viewers back to the time when Lynn hit the airwaves and follows her rise to record-breaking artist, topping the charts with her feisty female anthems, including “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and “Fist City.”

Using archival and new audio interviews and classic performances, the documentary lets Lynn tell the story of her own remarkable life.

“I wanted to hear Loretta talking about herself,” Hall says. “Of course, finding the balance of her telling stories and combining that with her music was difficult. We had to pick the real gems so that the audience would get a good sense of her life.”

Hall is in awe of Lynn’s life.

She says Lynn taught herself guitar and guided herself to a successful career during a time when women had barriers in front of them.

Loretta Lynn is marking the 50th anniversary of writing the song “Coal Miners Daughter” in 2021. (Courtesy of David McClister)

“It surprised me to see how much she loved her husband,” Hall says. “To stay put and focus on the good stuff and forgive the bad stuff and make a life with him. She did that. He did push her career, though he was a bit of a wanderer. But she made the conscious choice to make it work with him. She was also able to keep her family intact despite of all that she was dealing with professionally and personally. It’s hard to keep a marriage and family together, but she did it. When I was filming, all her kids were there, hanging out with her. It was refreshing to see.”

Lynn is also celebrating another milestone in 2021.

She will release her 50th studio album – excluding her 10 studio duet collaborations with Conway Twitty – “Still Woman Enough,” which celebrates women in country music, on March 19.

Lynn is also one of the most awarded musicians of all time. She has been inducted into more music Halls of Fame than any female recording artist, including The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was the first woman to be named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year in 1972. Lynn received Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. In 2015, she was named recipient of Billboard’s inaugural Women in Music “Legend” Award. Lynn has won four Grammy Awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010) and sold more than 45 million records worldwide.

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