Loretta Lynn, the country singer whose songs and inspiring life story made her one of the most beloved American musical performers of her generation, died on Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90.
Her family said in a statement that she died in her sleep at her ranch, which had turned Hurricane Mills, about 70 miles west of Nashville, into a tourist destination.
Ms. Lynn built her stardom not only on her music, but also on her image as a symbol of rural pride and determination. Her story was carved out of Kentucky coal country, from hardscrabble beginnings in Butcher Hollow (which her songs made famous as Butcher Holler). She became a wife at 15, a mother at 16 and a grandmother in her early 30s, married to a womanizing sometime bootlegger who managed her to stardom. That story made her autobiography, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” a best seller and the grist for an Oscar-winning movie adaptation of the same name.
Her voice, characterized by a Kentucky drawl, made her instantly recognizable as a singer. “With Loretta you just turn on the mic, stand back and hold on” said John Carter Cash, who produced Ms. Lynn’s final recordings.
Her songwriting was extremely influential in country music, inspiring many of the younger generations of artists. Her music was rooted in honky-tonk country and the Appalachian songs she had grown up singing.
Ms. Lynn got her start in the music business at a time when male artists dominated the country airwaves. She nevertheless became a voice for ordinary women, with songs that spoke to the changing mores of women throughout America.
In “Hey Loretta,” a wry 1973 hit about walking out on rural drudgery written by the cartoonist Shel Silverstein, she sang, “You can feed the chickens and you can milk the cow/This woman’s liberation, honey, is gonna start right now.” Silverstein also wrote the beleaguered housewife’s lament “One’s on the Way,” a No. 1 country hit for Ms. Lynn in 1971.
“Loretta always just said exactly what she was going through right then in her music, and that’s why it resonates with us,” the country singer Miranda Lambert, one of countless younger performers influenced by Ms. Lynn, said in a 2016 PBS “American Masters” documentary, “Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl.”