The Sweet Story of How Dolly Parton Came to Be Miley Cyrus’s Godmother

Tierney McAfee
·3-min read
Photo credit: Kevin Mazur
Photo credit: Kevin Mazur

Miley Cyrus's 2012 Backyard Sessions cover of “Jolene” by Dolly Parton recently surpassed 300 million views on YouTube, and it's no wonder why. It's so beautiful! Still, to some, the song choice may seem unexpected. But did you know that Miley actually has a super special relation to the woman behind the iconic 1973 hit? Believe it or not, Dolly Parton is Miley Cyrus's godmother!

Dolly opened up about their special bond in a 2019 interview with SiriusXM's Just Jenny, explaining how she came to be Miley's godmother after working with her father, fellow country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, in the early 1990s.

"I worked with Billy Ray for all those years, when he had 'Achy Breaky Heart,'" Dolly said. "He worked with me on some shows we did in the early days. He opened some of my shows. We just got to know each other. I wrote a song called 'Romeo,' and had him in a video. We just kind of gelled, 'cause we're both country kids. We had a lot of fun just talking about that. And then when Miley came along, I said, 'She's got to be my fairy goddaughter.'"

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

And Dolly, 75, is a godmother in so much more than just title. The 11-time Grammy Award winner and her self-described "fairy goddaughter" have an unbreakable bond that has endured through Miley's 28 years.

Although Dolly has often acted as a mentor to the Grammy-nominated pop star, she says she prefers to lead by example rather than give advice.

“I’ve told her some things that I think are valuable and that she uses, but I’d rather live an example,” Dolly told People in 2019. “[I’d rather] be an example rather than just try to tell somebody to do this, do that because I don’t think that’s right. Everybody’s different. You’ve got your own journey. And some people are going to help you along the way and they can kick a few rocks out of the road for you, but you got to walk it.”

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Luckily, Dolly has been there for Miley every step of the way. She even appeared on Miley's Disney sitcom Hannah Montana as the character's godmother (just like in real life!).

The two singers have also performed together many times, most recently at the 2019 Grammy Awards. As part of a tribute to Dolly during the show, Miley and Dolly teamed up for a stunning rendition of—you guessed it—"Jolene."

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

The year 2019 was a big one for honoring Dolly. That's also when the Dolly Parton: A MusiCares Tribute was filmed as part of the celebration when The Recording Academy (which puts on the Grammy Awards) named Dolly its first ever MusiCares Person of the Year.

The show was filmed in Los Angeles just ahead of the 61st annual Grammy Awards, but fans will finally be able to watch it this week. The star-studded concert will air as a Netflix special called Dolly Parton: A MusiCares Tribute, premiering April 7 on the streaming platform.

Hosted by Little Big Town, the concert also features performances from Miley, Katy Perry, Shawn Mendes, Willie Nelson, Leon Bridges, Chris Stapleton, and Yolanda Adams. We can't wait to watch! How about you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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