Emmy Russell has been impressing the American Idol judges and viewers with her performances during season 22 and earned a spot in the top 5. The singer has notable roots in the music industry, as her grandmother is the late Loretta Lynn.

Who Is American Idol’s Emmy Russell?

Emmy is a contestant on season 22 of American Idol. She is from Nashville, Tennessee, and was 24 years old when she auditioned for the show in 2023. Emmy works as a musician and even performed at the iconic Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in April 2023.

Emmy’s parents are Patsy (Loretta’s daughter) and Philip Russell. They got married in 1998 and have six children, which means Emmy has five siblings. 

who is emmy russell loretta lynn relative on american idol

After getting a golden ticket to Hollywood for her Idol audition, Emmy continued to impress the judges in the weeks that followed. She earned a spot in the top 24, which is when the voting was put into the hands of viewers. Emmy made it into the top 20 during the April 14, 2024, episode.

American Idol’s Emmy Russell Is Related to Loretta Lynn

Emmy revealed her connection to Loretta during her American Idol audition, which aired in February 2024. “I don’t really sing out as much anymore, but growing up I sang on the road,” she told the judges. “My grandma’s a country singer, so I kind of grew up singing.”

When Luke Bryan asked Emmy to identify her grandmother and she said Loretta’s name, the judges were shocked. “I think there’s a reason why I think I am a little timid and I think it is because I want to own my voice,” Emmy explained. “I want to own it. That’s why I want to challenge myself and come here.” 

Later in the season, Emmy honored her late grandmother by singing Loretta’s song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” for her top 8 performance. Judge Katy Perry made the song choice for Emmy and was in tears when she finished singing. Emmy also got emotional while rehearsing for the live show.

“I know ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ like the back of my hand,” she shared. “I think I want to do it more like an ode, almost like a way of hugging her. I’m literally just a granddaughter singing this song to her grandma. I need to be proud that I am a granddaughter of Loretta Lynn.”

In 2022, Emmy took the stage to honor her grandmother during CMT’s Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Loretta Lynn special, which aired shortly after the legendary musician’s death. Emmy performed with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson at the concert. The pair sang “Lay Me Down,” a collaboration between Loretta and Willie, which was featured on Loretta’s 2016 album. Their rendition received a nomination for Performance of the Year at the CMT Awards in 2023.

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Emmy was no stranger to the stage at this point, as she had previously performed with her grandmother on various occasions over the years.

Before Loretta’s death at the age of 90, Emmy was able to get some invaluable advice from her. “While performing, I would sing one song everyone knew, which was ‘If I Die Young,’ and then I’d sing an original song,” Emmy explained in an interview. “Memaw always told me to do that because everyone wants to sing along with you. But then if you want to share your heart, do that too, but not too much.”

Did American Idol’s Emmy Russell Have an Eating Disorder?

For her American Idol audition, Emmy sang an original song called “Skinny,” which she first released in August 2023. The track is about battling an eating disorder, and includes lyrics like, “Haven’t eaten in days, God I hate how you made me.”

In a May 2023 Instagram post, Emmy detailed her recovery journey along with a photo of herself in the gym. “Super grateful to finally take on these lies I told myself my entire life!” she wrote. “I don’t wanna be skinny, I wanna be strong. I wanna be alive. Growing up my entire life I was so insecure about my body over words about my weight and the way I dressed in school… it’s all lies.”