A statue of Loretta Lynn has joined similar sculptures of Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens outside Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. The new piece of art, unveiled on Tuesday morning (Oct. 20), is the third statue on the venue’s Icon Walk.
Artist Ben Watts crafted the new statue of Lynn, the 88-year-old “living legend” whose ”enduring” contributions to country music were lauded by Ryman Auditorium General Manager Gary Levy and Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed during a short ceremony. (Lynn’s daughters Patsy Russell and Peggy Lynn were scheduled to attend to represent their mother, but woke up under the weather on Tuesday morning.)
The unveiling of Lynn’s statue occurred five days after the 60th anniversary of Lynn’s Grand Ole Opry debut on Oct. 15, 1960. At that time, the famed country music radio show was broadcast live from the Ryman.
“My dream, like thousands of other singers, was just singing on the Grand Ole Opry … Many years, I’ve stood onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, and there’s no place like it,” Lynn said via a statement, read aloud during the ceremony by Pete Weien of Ryman Hospitality. “It means so much to me to have the statue … One day soon, I’m gonna get to come to the Ryman and see it for myself, but for today, I want to say thank you, and I love each and everyone of you for thinking of me.”
The Icon Walk statues of Dickens and Monroe, also sculpted by Watts, were both unveiled in 2017, for the Ryman Auditorium’s 125th anniversary. The venue is also home to statues of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl, who likenesses are perched on a pew in the Ryman’s lobby. Per a 2019 announcement, the Icon Walk will “feature a collection of detailed bronze likenesses honoring those who have made significant contributions to the historic venue and Music City.”
Nicknamed the First Lady of Country Music, Lynn was the first woman to win CMA Entertainer of the Year, in 1972. After getting her start in country music in the 1960s, she earned a reputation as a trailblazer with songs such as “The Pill,” “Rated X” and “Don’t Come Home a’Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).” Among her more than 60 albums are 10 No. 1 records and 16 No. 1 country singles; she’s an ACM and Grammy Awards winner, as well as a Country Music Hall of Fame member, a Songwriters Hall of Fame member and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
Loretta Lynn: Pictures Through the Years