When it comes to Kentucky talent, the list is long, varied and always entertaining

rcopley@herald-leader.comSeptember 28, 2013 

For being only the 26th most populous of these United States, Kentucky sure can't seem to keep out of the national and even global pop-culture spotlight.

From A-list movie stars such as George Clooney to chart-topping musicians such as Backstreet Boys Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson to our steady stream of reality stars, the Bluegrass State has a knack for churning out world-class talent.

If there is anything Kentucky seems to specialize in, it is talented, strong, honest women from Loretta Lynn to Jennifer Lawrence.

Lynn, who this year added a Presidential Medal of Freedom to her honors, quickly lost her humble mountain-girl persona when she broke into country music, fighting for airplay and putting out fighting songs such as You Ain't Woman Enough (to Take My Man), and just in case the man thinks he's getting off easy, Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind).

As the country was going through a huge cultural realignment in the 1960s and '70s, Lynn was out there with songs like The Pill and Rated-X. They were songs that traditionally conservative country radio often refused to play, but that only added to Lynn's legend.

On stage, her persona is usually blunt and sometimes feisty and always fun.

And fun is what Lawrence, known to many fans as JLaw, seems to be having all the way to the A-List. Just witness her career capping moment at this year's Academy Awards, where she received the Oscar for best actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.

In her Dior dress that made her look like she had just stepped out of a Disney princess movie, she deftly tripped on her way up the steps to get her award and then addressed the standing ovation she received saying, "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell, and that's really embarrassing."

It was very typical for JLaw, who keeps it real — some interviewers now just ask her if she wants to do something inappropriate to get things started — but she is also stringing together a career of critically acclaimed-performances of tough women including Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games heroine she introduced last year and will play in three more movies.

Lawrence and Lynn's spirit is reflected in plenty of other Kentucky women in the spotlight including all the Judds — Naomi, Wynonna and Ashley — Murray's Molly Sims, who has lampooned her supermodel looks in forums such as SNL Digital Shorts; Franklin's Annie Potts, whose distinctive voice was a clever disguise for an assertive persona; and late Kentucky stars including music legend Rosemary Clooney and Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal.

And we're almost to the end here, and we haven't even mentioned Kentucky-born A-listers such as Johnny Depp, music legends such as The Everly Brothers, and purveyors of the Bluegrass State's native music such as Bill Monroe, J.D. Crowe, Sam Bush and Ricky Skaggs — to name a few.

This summer, another Kentucky musician, Pineville's Jimmy Rose, made a run on NBC's America's Got Talent.

If he becomes a household name, it won't be a surprise. We're kind of used to that in Kentucky.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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