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Emmy Russell Honors Grandmother Loretta Lynn With Original Song on ‘American Idol’

For the late country musician’s birthday, her granddaughter performed the self-written song “Want You”

Loretta Lynn‘s granddaughter Emmy Russell is still in the running to become the Season 22 winner of American Idol, and the singer made a strong case for keeping her around as she debuted an original song on April 14. The date happened to coincide with what would have been the country icon’s 92nd birthday.

For the Top 20 round, Russell performed “Want You,” an affecting ballad about emotional reassurance. “I want you to want me like I want you/I want you to need me like I need you,” the 25-year-old sang for the judges. “If you’re gonna leave me, then cut me loose/I want you to want me.”

On Instagram, Lynn’s estate showered Russell in praise for the performance. “What a birthday gift! Loretta’s granddaughter Emmy just made Top 20 on @americanidol,” the caption beneath a photo of Russell read. “Emmy was born on Doo and Loretta’s anniversary and now we have this milestone on Loretta’s birthday! Loretta told all who would listen that Emmy had something special and now the world is seeing for themselves. Congrats, Emmy!”

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Russell comes from a long lineage of musicians, but the young musician is hyper-aware of the pressure that comes with that. “When I was 15, she passed me down her guitar at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. ‘Only you’re the one that I feel is supposed to carry this,’ but at 15 you don’t know how to carry a weight that heavy,” she recently told Rolling Stone. “And so my process has been interesting. My musical journey has been very interesting with learning how to carry it correctly rather than letting it crush me.”

She added: “Meemaw did give me this guitar, so there is something to that. She saw something in me and she’s got a lot of grandkids that sing, so there must be something there. I always write, I’ve always just been a creative human, and so maybe there is a legacy there that I can carry, but in a different way than what I thought. I thought I had to be just like her. I feel like I’m more like her than I was whenever I was trying to be like her.”

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