Wynonna Judd Talks About Singing with Loretta Lynn’s Granddaughter Emmy Russell on ‘American Idol’ (Exclusive)!

Wynonna Judd experienced a profound connection to her past and country music legacy during the Season 22 finale of American Idol. The iconic country singer performed a duet with Emmy Russell, the granddaughter of the late, great Loretta Lynn. This heartfelt collaboration stood out as one of the evening’s most poignant moments, blending generations of country music heritage on one stage.

Speaking with ET’s Denny Directo on the red carpet, Judd, 59, reflected on the powerful experience. “I did and I love Loretta,” she said, acknowledging the emotional weight of the performance. “She gave me the shirt off her back, literally, and she was the first woman that hugged me in country music.” This sentiment underscored the deep bond Judd shared with Lynn, highlighting how pivotal Lynn was in her musical journey.

During the finale, Judd wasn’t just there to perform; she was also in the room to offer advice to the show’s three finalists: Jack Blocker, Abi Carter, and Will Moseley. However, the chance to sing “No One Else on Earth” with Russell added a layer of personal significance to her appearance. “At some point in your life, you find yourself talking to someone in the family that’s carrying on what their ancestors started, and that’s what she’s doing,” Judd remarked, emphasizing the continuity and resilience of country music traditions through new generations.

Judd viewed her involvement in the American Idol finale as an opportunity to give back to the music community. She was eager to share her wisdom and experience with the young contestants, hoping to guide them through the complexities of the music industry. “I’m helping these youngsters out there who need some wisdom and experience,” Judd explained, stressing the importance of mentoring the next generation of artists.

Wynonna Judd Talks About Singing with Loretta Lynn's Granddaughter Emmy Russell on 'American Idol' (Exclusive)!

The duet with Russell was particularly meaningful given Judd’s history with Loretta Lynn. Less than two years ago, Judd had performed at Lynn’s celebration of life memorial service in October 2022. During the event, she delivered a stirring rendition of “How Great Thou Art” alongside the Gaither Vocal Group and Larry Strickland, honoring Lynn’s enduring influence on country music and her personal life.

In the wake of Lynn’s passing on October 4, 2022, Judd penned a heartfelt tribute on Instagram. She expressed her gratitude for Lynn’s friendship and the profound impact Lynn had on her career. “As a young girl, I learned about Loretta from listening to her on the Grand Ole Opry. She was the very first country concert I ever saw,” Judd wrote. She reminisced about her teenage years spent in Las Vegas, where she would watch Lynn perform nightly, mesmerized by her presence and talent.

Emmy Russell’s journey on American Idol has also been marked by memorable moments. In February, she surprised judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie with an original song titled “Skinny,” which candidly addressed her battle with an eating disorder. Before she began her performance, she revealed her familial connection to Lynn, leaving the judges visibly stunned. “Your grandma is,” Richie exclaimed, “What?!”

Russell’s audition earned her high praise from the judges. Perry lauded her songwriting skills, saying, “You are an A+ songwriter. So is your grandma. You got the gift.” Perry advised Russell to embrace her unique talent without feeling pressured to compare herself to her legendary grandmother. Although Russell was ultimately eliminated on May 12, her return for the finale underscored her resilience and talent, capturing the audience’s admiration once again.

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Wynonna Judd’s duet with Emmy Russell on the American Idol finale was a touching tribute to Loretta Lynn’s legacy. It highlighted the enduring power of country music to connect artists across generations. For Judd, the performance was not just about celebrating a new star; it was about honoring a lifelong friend and mentor, ensuring that Lynn’s spirit and influence continue to resonate in the hearts of country music fans and artists alike.

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