Wynonna Judd pays tribute to Loretta Lynn with late icon's granddaughter on “American Idol”: 'I love Loretta'

Judd and Emmy Russell sang Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter" during the "American Idol" finale.

Emmy Russell, granddaughter of country great Loretta Lynn, may have been eliminated from American Idol last week, but she wasn't absent from Sunday's finale.

The 24-year-old Russell joined Wynonna Judd to perform a medley that featured "Coal Miner's Daughter," one of Lynn's signature songs, accompanied by images of the late country icon. They followed that with a lively duet of Judd's hit, "No One Else on Earth."

Russell performed "Coal Miner's Daughter" earlier in the competition as well.

<p>Disney/Eric McCandless</p> Emmy Russell and Wynonna Judd on 'American Idol'

Disney/Eric McCandless

Emmy Russell and Wynonna Judd on 'American Idol'

Related: American Idol contestant Emmy Russell honors late grandmother Loretta Lynn with 'Coal Miner's Daughter' cover

The duet left Judd feeling Lynn's presence, she told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday's red carpet. "I did and I love Loretta," Judd said. "She gave me the shirt off her back, literally, and she was the first woman that hugged me in country music."

Judd, who was recently a mega mentor on The Voice, was at the Idol finale to advise the three finalists — Jack Blocker, Will Moseley, and eventual winner, Abi Carter. However, she said that performing with Russell was also a special moment. "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," she said.

Following Lynn's death in 2022, Judd wrote a tribute to the trailblazing country artist on Instagram. "When people ask me what my favorite movie is, Coal Miner’s Daughter is my number one. Loretta has always been my favorite, from the time I can remember," she wrote, referencing the fictionalized film about Lynn's life from 1980.

"As a young girl, I learned about Loretta from listening to her on the Grand Ole Opry," Judd wrote. "She was the very first country concert I ever saw. I was 15 and living in a Vegas hotel for a bit, and I would go down to one of the casino showrooms to watch her show every night. I was mesmerized from the first time I saw her walk out onstage in her ball gown."

"I got to meet her when I was 20 years old," she continued. "As I walked into the CMA’s for the first time in 1984, she was the first person who came over and hugged me."

Judd also performed at Lynn's celebration of her life in Oct. 2022, where she sang "How Great Thou Art" with the Gaither Vocal Group and Larry Strickland, paying tribute to the trailblazing country artist.

While Russell's time on American Idol has frequently referenced her grandmother, she also impressed the judges on her own merits, starting with the audition where she performed one of her own songs.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

That audition wowed the judges and earned her a ticket to Hollywood. "You're an A+ songwriter," departing judge Katy Perry said. "So is your grandma. You got the gift." 

<p>Disney/Eric McCandless</p> Emmy Russell and Wynonna Judd on 'American Idol'

Disney/Eric McCandless

Emmy Russell and Wynonna Judd on 'American Idol'

Related: American Idol crowns Abi Carter season 22 winner as Katy Perry departs the judging panel

Last week, Russell took to Instagram to tell fans she felt "grateful" for her American Idol experience. “It’s funny, because before I got eliminated, I really felt like God told me, 'Emmy you’re not gonna be chosen by America, but I chose you,'" she said in the video. "And so, there was no sense of 'Why wasn’t I chosen?' I know I’m chosen. It’s like whenever a boy is like, 'I don’t wanna go out with you anymore,' and you’re like 'Okay. But I know I’m loved.’”

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.