Music

Emmy Russell Performs ‘Jaw-Drop’ Cover of Grandma Loretta Lynn’s ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’

“I knew she was going to ace it because she’s sang it a thousand times,” Katy Perry said of Russell’s performance on Monday’s episode of American Idol

Emmy Russell is honoring her “memaw” Loretta Lynn with her latest performance. During Monday’s episode of American Idol, the young musician performed a piano-backed cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that moved much of the crowd (including Katy Perry) to tears.

Russell — who’s competing on the newest season of American Idol — took the stage behind the piano to slow down and transform Lynn’s classic to match her own musical style. With Monday’s episode, Russell heads to the Top 7 of the singing competition show.

“I think this was the first time that I said, ‘I’m proud.’ I’m proud to be in this family ’cause with the family comes a blessing, but with it comes a curse,” Russell told People after the performance. “I think just closing my eyes and telling her, ‘I’m proud of you.’ I did that in rehearsal… I want people to feel proud of their story, where they’ve come from… I’m just really grateful.”

Judge Katy Perry — who has encouraged the singer to “do anything [she does] as Emmy Russell”— chose “Coal Miner’s Daughter” for her to perform and to embrace where she has “come from,” Russell explained. Perry told People that it was the “right time” for Russell to sing a Lynn track.

“It’s like you want to forge your own path and I think she has,” Perry said. “I knew she was going to ace it because she’s sang it a thousand times. She really did, and it was just a jaw-drop moment.”

Russell told Rolling Stone last month that she felt a responsibility to carry her grandmother’s legacy in music, but admitted that she would do so while embracing her own style.

“Her essence is literally in my blood. And so it’s like, what if our thing that’s alike is the confessional truthfulness? What if I’m not as country as her?” she said at the time. “What if we don’t sing about the same things, but we’re still honest within our songs?”

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“Maybe there is a legacy there that I can carry, but in a different way than what I thought,” Russell said. “I thought I had to be just like her. I feel like I’m more like her [now] than I was whenever I was trying to be like her.”

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