Watch Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter’s performance floor the ‘Idol’ judges

Emmy Russell performs on 'American Idol'
Disney/Eric McCandless

Loretta Lynn’s granddaughter is a current contestant on “American Idol,” adding another layer of interest to this year’s competition. But Emmy Russell says she’s determined to win the singing contest on her own merits. And, based on Monday’s performance, she’s well on her way.

Her rendition of Benson Boone’s “Beautiful Things” impressed the judges and brought the audience to their feet.

“You have a texture in your voice that is your career,” said judge Lionel Richie. “And on top of that what you have is a storyteller’s voice. We hear every word you are saying, and we believe it.”

Fellow judge Katy Perry also acknowledged the heart and authenticity of Russell’s performance. “I know you didn’t write that song,” she said. “But you sang it like you did.”

Watch Russell’s performance here:

Loretta Lynn, who died at age 90 in 2002, was also revered for her sincere storytelling in hit songs like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “The Pill.” Russell says she learned a great deal from listening to her grandmother.

“Seeing how she was so confessional in her songs,” Russell told People. “She was probably known as ‘my husband’s cheating on me 24/7’ and she stayed. I think that it was the vulnerability, that piece that I picked up on as a writer.”

Russell has boldly written about her own struggles, which in her case involved disordered eating. She wrote the song “Skinny” while she was in recovery and went on to perform it on “American Idol” when she auditioned.

“I struggled a lot with physical beauty image pressures and social media,” Russell told People. “I kind of grew up in the spotlight and so I was always very image-conscious.” But she found songwriting to be a cathartic outlet, one that helped her to face life’s pressures and her own vulnerability. “Beauty from ashes, that’s music for me.”

Russell is hoping to advance beyond the top 24 contestants and compete again next week. If viewers received the performance the way the judges did, she should have no problem doing just that!

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About the Author
Jennifer Graham Kizer
Jennifer Graham Kizer has written features and essays for over a dozen magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Health, Parents, Parenting, Redbook and TV Guide. Visit Scripps News to see more of Jennifer's work.

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