Dolly Parton (L) and Miley Cyrus perform onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Dolly Parton Always Knew Goddaughter Miley Cyrus Was Special: 'She Just Had a Light About Her'


Dolly Parton may not have children, but she is incredibly close to her goddaughter Miley Cyrus. In real life, they are every bit as close-knit as they appear to be in pics shared on social media. Even when she was a little girl, Parton knew that there was something special about Miley and that she would grow up to do big things.

"I've always loved her, since she was little, and I knew she was special," Parton told Marie Claire. "She just had a light about her. Her sparkle, and her smile, and her eyes were always full of wonder."

How Dolly Parton Became Miley Cyrus' Godmother

Miley grew up around country music. Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, regularly performed and toured with Parton. The country legend explained to SiriusXM's Just Jenny that she became fast friends with Billy Ray. When Miley came around, she knew she wanted to play a special part in her life.

"I worked with Billy Ray for all those years, when he had 'Achy Breaky Heart,'" Parton 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.'"


So from day one, Miley was surrounded by some of the biggest names in the music industry. It's no wonder that she was a natural when she booked the Disney series Hannah Montana. Her father co-starred on the series and her "fairy godmother," Dolly, appeared as a special guest. 

Read More: Billy Ray Cyrus' Children: Inside the Country Star's Big, Musical Family

"When she was on that little show, I saw what great timing she had, what a great little comedian she was," Parton said. "But I'd always known her to write her little songs on her little left-handed guitar. I guess Billy Ray is the lefty. And so she just kind of grew up with us. With Billy and me--Billy Ray, her dad, we were friends and we worked a lot together, doing shows together, traveling some. But I just knew she was just going to make it. I just knew she was a star."

Dolly Parton (L) and Miley Cyrus perform onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Dolly Parton (L) and Miley Cyrus perform onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Through the ups and downs of Miley becoming a superstar of her own right, Aunt Dolly has never been anything but supportive. She even told People following her sudden divorce from actor Liam Hemsworth that Miley would be just fine.


"Lord, I've done everything, and what I ain't done, I intend to," Parton said. "She's going to do that, too. But Miley's smart; Miley knows what she's doing. I know we think she doesn't, and she might not every minute, but I still know that she's got good stuff in her."

Read More: Dolly Parton Explains Why She Didn't Let Elvis Record 'I Will Always Love You'

Over the years, the two entertainers have performed numerous duets together. They performed "Jolene" together at the Grammy Awards and on The Voice, proving that the country singer and pop star's voices sound incredible together. Miley even performed on Dolly's latest Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, and they've been known to hit the stage together at Parton's Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 


Parton even told Entertainment Tonight that initially, she had wanted Miley to play Jolene in her Netflix series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings.

"Years back when I used to think of Jolene, you know, before Julianne [Hough] came on, I used to think... I'd love -- Miley would have been great at that as well," she shares. "But Miley was doing other things. It wasn't that kind of a thing, but she would have been great in that as well."

Miley is also every bit as proud of her godmother and knows what a legend she is. She even had the honor of presenting her with the first-ever Hitmaker Award at the 2020 Billboard's Women in Music event. 

"I've never met anyone that doesn't like Dolly Parton," Miley said. "And it's safe to say if they don't like her, it's only because they love her." She went on to explain the ways she's influenced other genres of music and "has paved the way for other women songwriters, encouraging them to take ownership and get the credit that they deserve -- an issue many women in the songwriting industry still struggle with today."


"When Elvis [Presley] sought to record Dolly's 'I Will Always Love You,' Dolly famously said no, keeping control of her song that Elvis wanted half of the publishing royalties to," Cyrus added, "Slay all day, Dolly."

Most recently, Cyrus and her sister Noah performed Parton's "Jolene" on New Year's Eve.





Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Country are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

This article was originally published in January of 2021. 



Related Videos