Like so many successful performers, native Kentuckian Emily Portman cut her musical teeth singing in church and learning to read music as a member of her high school band. Inspired by her parents’ music, her influences were an amalgamation of classic country and classic rock, with a little ‘80s music mixed in and included Merle Haggard, Jim Croce, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. In college, she joined a choral group, learned the guitar, and began performing professionally at the Corydon Jamboree just across the border in neighboring Indiana. However, when she covered the music of Loretta Lynn, people took notice.
At an early age, perhaps due to her Kentucky roots and natural inflection, Emily was told that she, “sounded a lot like” country music legend, Loretta Lynn, so she became a student of her artistry. Emily pored over the singer’s entire catalogue of music and began working to emulate Loretta’s vocal style and her onstage mannerisms.In the summer of 2004, Emily entered a “Sing Like” contest at the Kentucky Opry and won $1,000 for her portrayal of Loretta.
Just a couple years later, after posting a video of herself performing a Loretta Lynn song on YouTube, she was discovered by Michael Twitty (eldest son of the great Conway Twitty) who cast her to portray Loretta in the nationally touring musical “It’s Only MakeBelieve.” The musical was instrumental in establishing Portman’s career. Over the next two decades, herportrayal of the Coal Miner’s Daughter would carry to the most prestigious stages (including the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry), where she would rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the business, including George Jones, Archie Campbell, Vern Gosdin, Toby Keith, Chris Cagle, and even Loretta Lynn, herself, with whom she formed a close friendship.
Emily made frequent trips to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills,TN. During one of her visits, the two singers were enjoying a casual conversation when, in mid-sentence, Lynn paused, looked at her straight in the eyes and said, “ya’ know, we have a real connection, don’t we?” If you ever saw the two performers together, the connection they shared was obvious.After Ms. Lynn’s unfortunate recent passing, Emily Portman connected with Loretta’s longtime backup band, The Coalminers. They agreed to join talents and collaborate to honor the memory and music of this true country music trail blazer with “Always Loretta”—a show authorized by the Loretta Lynn family that includes all the greatest hits and shares intimate stories of Loretta’s life through the eyes of those who knew her best.
Authorized and Approved by the Loretta Lynn Family!