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All About Loretta Lynn's 26 Grandchildren — Including “American Idol ”Contestant Emmy Russell

Loretta Lynn was a grandmother to 26 grandkids before her death in 2022

<p>Tayla Lynn Instagram ; Loretta Lynn Instagram</p> Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Tayla Lynn. ; Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Emmy Russell during Christmas time.

Tayla Lynn Instagram ; Loretta Lynn Instagram

Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Tayla Lynn. ; Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Emmy Russell during Christmas time.

Loretta Lynn left behind a legacy not only in the music industry, but also with her expansive family.

The country icon died on Oct. 4, 2022, and was survived by four of her children as well as 25 grandchildren (one of her grandchildren predeceased her in 2016). With her husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, she was a mother to Betty Sue, who died in 2013, Jack Benny, who died in 1984, Clara Marie, Ernest Ray, and twins Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen.

Per her website, her grandchildren include Loretta Lynn Massey, Audrey Dryer, Jenny Whitworth, Jeremy Jack Lynn, Lori Lynn Smith, Ethan Lyell, Elizabeth Braun, Alexandria McCorry, Levi Lynn, Jason Lynn, Ernest Ray Lynn Jr., Tayla Lynn, Alex Lynn, David Greer, Wesley Lynn, Jasyntha Connelly, Lucca Marchetti, Natalie Rapp, Anthony Brutto, Megan Horkins, Katherine Condya, David Russell, Emmy Rose Russell, Jennafer Russell and Melody Russell.

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One of her grandchildren, Emmy Russell, appears to be following in her grandmother’s footsteps with a career in music. In February 2024, Emmy appeared on American Idol where she got through to the Hollywood round after auditioning in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

From celebrating holidays with their grandmother to their own singing careers, here’s everything to know about Loretta Lynn’s grandchildren.

She became a grandma at age 34

Loretta Lynn Instagram Loretta Lynn in a throwback photo with her daughter Betty Sue.
Loretta Lynn Instagram Loretta Lynn in a throwback photo with her daughter Betty Sue.

Loretta welcomed her first daughter, Betty Sue Lynn, when she was just 16 years old and she became a grandmother for the first time when Betty had her first child at 18 years old. At the time, Loretta’s youngest children, twins Peggy and Patsy, were only 2 years old.

Betty named her daughter after her mother, Loretta Lynn Massey. Betty later had another daughter, Audrey Dryer, and the two survived her after she died in 2013 at 64 years old from complications from emphysema.

She was proud of how her children parent

<p>Emmy Russell Instagram</p> Loretta Lynn with her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and granddaughter Emmy Russell and country singer Alison Krauss.

Emmy Russell Instagram

Loretta Lynn with her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and granddaughter Emmy Russell and country singer Alison Krauss.

Loretta always held her kids in the highest regard and often posted sweet tributes to them on Instagram and her website, but one of her proudest moments was seeing the kind of parents her own children became.

In one such tribute on her website, entitled “Two Are Better Than One,” Loretta wrote about how Peggy and Patsy have become not only her “best friends,” but also incredible mothers themselves.

“They’re both amazing mommas with the best kids ever,” she wrote. “I guess I’m more proud of the mommas they are and how fiercely they love their own kids than anything.”

Her family gathered at her ranch every holiday season

<p>Loretta Lynn Instagram</p> Loretta Lynn and her kids Clara Marie Lynn, Ernest Ray Lynn, Peggy Jean Lynn, and Patsy Lynn holding up photos of Loretta's deceased husband and children.

Loretta Lynn Instagram

Loretta Lynn and her kids Clara Marie Lynn, Ernest Ray Lynn, Peggy Jean Lynn, and Patsy Lynn holding up photos of Loretta's deceased husband and children.

When her children were growing up, Loretta was at the height of her fame and often on tour or performing. However, regardless of where she was, the “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” singer always tried to celebrate the holidays with her family.

I would try to make it home for the holidays, but sometimes I was late,” she told PEOPLE in December 2016. “Just close your eyes and think about your own family — just think about being away from them on the holidays. It was hard for me. Sometimes I’d cry.”

Regardless of the times she struggled to get back home, Loretta made it an annual tradition to host her large family in her Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, ranch. The family enjoyed a night of prayers and presents on Christmas Eve and Memaw’s — as her grandchildren affectionately call her — famous chicken and dumplings.

“Family means everything to me,” she told PEOPLE. But with all the younger Lynns around — including over 20 great-grandchildren and multiple great-great-grandchildren — she joked, “I just put stoppers in my ears!”

Her grandson, Jeffrey Allen Lynn, died in 2016

Loretta Lynn Instagram Loretta Lynn's deceased son Jack Benny Lynn in a throwback photo.
Loretta Lynn Instagram Loretta Lynn's deceased son Jack Benny Lynn in a throwback photo.

Loretta lost two of her six children before she died — Betty Sue in 2013 and her son, Jack Benny, in 1984. In 2016, tragedy struck her family again when her eldest grandson, Jeffrey Allen Lynn, died.

He was Jack’s eldest child and was 47 years old when he unexpectedly died. Loretta informed her fans on her website, writing that he worked on her ranch before his death and was a father of three.

Her granddaughter, Tayla Lynn, has a career in music

<p>Loretta Lynn Instagram</p> Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Tayla Lynn.

Loretta Lynn Instagram

Loretta Lynn with her granddaughter Tayla Lynn.

The music genes ran strong in Loretta’s family and were passed on to her granddaughter, Tayla Lynn, whose father is Ernest Ray Lynn. Tayla grew close to her grandma, accompanying her on tour buses and behind the scenes at concerts.

“I would crawl in the back of the bus with her and spend day after day with her, snuggling and sharing a bed, so I’ve always felt very connected and close to Memaw,” she said in an interview with The Ties That Bind Us in September 2020.

Eventually, Tayla began performing with her grandma, who set her on the path of becoming a star in her own right.

“She just taught me everything I knew in those years,” she told the outlet. “I tried out different songs, and we would figure out what worked for me and what didn’t, and that’s when I started to some record labels.”

However, throughout her career, Tayla struggled with addiction to alcohol and opioids — something that her grandma wouldn’t stand for.

"The way she handled it was, I wasn't allowed to go on the road," Tayla told PEOPLE in July 2021. "Going on the road with her was like heaven to me, being able to be on her bus and eat dinner with her and sit with her in the back after the shows to debrief about the show. That was my favorite thing in the world. But she wouldn't allow it if I got myself in any trouble."

By 2004, Tayla got sober for the first time and, in 2010, she was part of the country group Stealing Angels. However, after getting married and giving birth to her son, the group split up and Tayla broke her sobriety.

Ultimately, Tayla worked to get sober again in 2013 and has maintained her sobriety since. As of 2021, she lived with her husband and children on her grandmother’s ranch in Hurricane Mills and continues to tour with country star Conway Twitty's grandson Tre Twitty.

"To go from getting arrested in the projects and weighing 82 lbs. and selling my body for drugs to now making a record and having people respect me and to stand on the stage with my little boys in the wings watching me is just incredible," she told PEOPLE. "If I wasn't sober, I wouldn't be here."

Her granddaughter, Emmy Russell, auditioned for American Idol

<p>Eric McCandless/Disney</p> Emmy Russel auditioning for American Idol in an episode that aired in February 2024.

Eric McCandless/Disney

Emmy Russel auditioning for American Idol in an episode that aired in February 2024.

Another one of Loretta’s granddaughters is also making a name for herself. Patsy’s daughter, Emmy Russell, made her TV debut in February 2024 when she auditioned for American Idol. Before she took the stage in front of the judges, Emmy shared that she wanted to create her own path while honoring her grandmother.

"She's one of the biggest country music singers of all time, but to me she's just Grandma," she said. "I think I am a little timid, and I think it is because I want to own my voice. That's why I want to challenge myself and come out here."

She performed her original song, “Skinny,” about struggles with weight and eating disorders on the piano for the judges, who were taken aback by her skill.

"You're an A+ songwriter. So was your grandma. You got the gift," Perry said after her performance. "I don't think you need to compare yourself to what Grandma was. You're totally different. You shouldn't give yourself all that pressure."

Emmy made it through to the Hollywood round after multiple yes’ from the judges.

However, American Idol wasn’t the first time Emmy took the stage in a public performance. In 2023, she teamed up with Willie Nelson’s son Lucas for a duet at a memorial concert broadcast on CMT for her grandmother. Her performance earned her a CMT Music Award nomination.

"I'm not trying to please anyone other than myself," she told The Tennessean in February 2024. "But if people find themselves and their journey in my songs, that will allow me to make this my work for the rest of my life."

In April 2024, Emmy spoke with PEOPLE about her struggle with disordered eating, which originated in high school.

"I struggled a lot with physical beauty image pressures and social media. I grew up in the spotlight and so I was always very image-conscious," she said, adding that her song "Skinny" was a creative outlet for all her pain. "Beauty from ashes, that's music for me."

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Read the original article on People.