Superstar Loretta Lynn was named BMI ICON tonight at the songwriter organization’s annual awards gala in Nashville. The  pinnacle of the star-studded ceremony came when Lynn was presented the ICON award by BMI President Emeritus Frances Preston and Lynn’s friend and musical influence Kitty Wells.

In a heart-felt tribute prior to the presentation, reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Martina McBride performed the classic “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and Lynn’s sister, Crystal Gayle belted-out her signature hit, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

“I love to write,” Lynn said of her BMI recognition, “I’m so proud to be here tonight and honored to be getting the ICON award.”

Lynn has released more than 70 charting albums spanning her 44-year career. Along with the Oscar-winning movie about her life, Lynn’s music has transcended genre barriers with homespun, yet often controversial, lyrics that thrust the plainspoken artist to the forefront of America’s consciousness. She has graced the cover of Newsweek, been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, named the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association (CMA) and last year became the recipient of the 2003 Kennedy Center Honors.

The BMI Icon honor follows on the heels of Lynn’s two recent Americana Music Association Awards for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year recognizing her critically-acclaimed Interscope album, Van Lear Rose. Comprised of 13 self-penned songs, Van Lear Rose garnered Loretta’s highest career sales debut entering Billboard’s Top 200 at # 24 and Country Album chart at # 2.

(L-R) Crystal Gayle, Kitty Wells, and Loretta