Loretta Lynn has a lot to be proud of: a storied career, more music halls of fame inductions than any other female musician in history, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Presidential Medal of Freedom -- and that's just the beginning. One of the most important pieces of the country icon's legacy is how she paved the way for today's female country artists by tackling contraception, divorce and the hard side of motherhood -- topics that were considered taboo at the time, especially for a woman.

Lynn tells Billboard that she wrote songs about those topics because "nobody had done it, for one thing, and I thought it should be done. A woman shouldn't be looked down on. There wouldn't be one on the way if it wasn't for a man, would there?"

In her 1975 hit "The Pill," lyrics such as, "This old maternity dress I've got / Is going in the garbage / The clothes I'm wearing from now on / Won't take up so much yardage" got Lynn banned from several radio stations -- but they also got her on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped open doors for women in music.

"I think I've done quite a bit," Lynn reflects. "I'm probably one of the girl singers who have helped other girl singers get in the business, because it is harder for girls to get on labels and be out there."

And just as many of today's artists look up to Lynn, she had her own heroes to look up to as she was growing her career: "Patsy Cline was one," Lynn says. "[And] I tried to sing just like Kitty Wells." As for contemporary country stars, Lynn says that she enjoys Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.

Today, the music industry has "opened the doors for all of them. When I started singing, there weren't that many women singing," Lynn explains. Still, she believes that the current crop of female artists have challenges to face as well. Getting into the business and onto labels aren't the only areas where Lynn sees women facing more obstacles than their male counterparts. She pinpoints motherhood as one aspect of her life that personally made success in the music industry more difficult.

"I had twins when I just started singing. We didn't know we were going to have twins until the day they were born," Lynn claims. "I think it's harder on a woman than on a man. I really do."

Those twins -- Peggy and Patsy, now 51 -- and older brother Ernest Ray tour with their mother regularly as part of her backing band, the Coal Miners. And Lynn keeps them busy: In the last few years, she's recorded 93 songs, and she's still touring -- with no intention to stop.

"I'm still hitting the road and doing as much as I always did," the 83-year-old says. "... I never drank, I never smoked. I always took care of myself like that. I've been singing for a long time. And I haven't quit."

A new record from Lynn, Full Circle -- her first studio disc under a multi-album deal with Legacy Recordings -- is set for release on March 4.

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