Country fans tuning in to the season premiere of American Idol on Sunday night (Feb. 18) may have caught an exciting surprise at the end of the episode.

A teaser reel previewing next week's episode showed a glimpse at one contestant who's related to country music royalty. In the clip, a young woman wearing an unassuming green hoodie steps in front of the judges and humbly explains, "My grandma's a country singer."

"Your grandma is — what?" judge Lionel Richie responds, realizing that the grandma in question is none other than country music legend Loretta Lynn.

That's right: A member of the Lynn family will be in the running for the American Idol championship this season. No other details about her or her audition are available just yet, though it looks as if this performer is musician Emmy Russell, one of Lynn's many talented grandchildren.

Who Is Emmy Russell?

Emmy Russell is the daughter of Patsy Lynn Russell and her husband Philip. Patsy and her twin sister Peggy are the two youngest of Loretta Lynn's six children, and Patsy was named after her mother's friend, fellow country luminary Patsy Cline.

Russell is a rising country performer in her own right. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut in April 2023, performing a tribute to Lynn called "Memaw's Guitar."

Russell appeared onstage during the public celebration of Lynn's life and music, an all-star event called Coal Miner's Daughter that aired on CMT in late October 2022. The tribute special took place just under a month after Lynn's death on Oct. 4, 2022.

Russell performed "Lay Me Down" with Lukas Nelson — a special team-up, since Lynn originally recorded that song as a duet with Willie Nelson, Lukas' famous father. The younger generation's version won a nomination for CMT Performance of the Year in 2023.

Crystal Lynn — who is Russell's aunt, since she's married to Lynn's son Ernest — shared the teaser clip of Russell's appearance on Idol to her Facebook page.

"It's been super hard to keep this a secret, but a certain little lady that we LOVE and ADORE makes her debut his season (next week) and she's gonna change the world!!!" Crystal gushes in the caption of her post.

Season 22 of American Idol will once again find judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry meeting contestants from all across the country in search of the next big superstar. It'll be Perry's last season on the show: She recently revealed plans to vacate her judging role after seven years.

Another major country music player will grace the Idol stage this season: Jelly Roll has been announced as a guest mentor.

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