Dolly Parton's Sister Brutally Compared Elle King And Taylor Swift After Opry Controversy

On January 19, 2024, legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton celebrated her 78th birthday. To commemorate the momentous occasion, the Grand Ole Opry hosted an event called "Opry Goes Dolly" at the Ryman Auditorium. Dolly wasn't in attendance — which may have been for the best because one of the performers at the event gave a sloppy, drunken performance.

Elle King — daughter of Rob Schnieder and London King — admitted to being drunk on stage where she also cursed multiple times and messed up lyrics to Dolly's song "Marry Me." According to a comment on a TikTok of Elle singing "Jolene," the singer was fine during the earlier evening show but, "Our 9:30 performance was the debacle!"

Dolly and her sister, Stella Parton, have had their ups and downs in their relationship, but Stella took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to criticize Elle for her performance. In a tweet about the event, Stella made a harsh comparison: "I'm still stewing and thinking bout how any lil spoiled brat with an opportunity to sing on the Opry to pay tribute to a legendary songwriter like Dolly Parton would just piss on the star circle on the stage. Taylor Swift wouldn't." 

Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton are mutual fans

Dolly Parton has yet to react to Elle King's performance as of this writing, and it's possible she never will based on a quote from a 2023 interview. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Parton admonished the idea of "cancel culture" and said, "We all make mistakes." She mentioned that, due to her religious beliefs, she thinks "everybody deserves a second chance," explaining, "If God can forgive you, we all should forgive one another." With that in mind, Parton likely won't hold a grudge against Elle King for her "Opry Goes Dolly" performance.

That being said, she'll probably remain on better terms with Taylor Swift. Swift and Parton are two powerhouses of the music industry (who have tied on a major record, both having rerecorded songs that hit number one like the originals). If Stella Parton manifested a collaboration, the world would be better for it. The two singers are also fans of each other. While speaking to Taste of Country Nights on singers elevating concert performances, Parton said, "Well good Lord, who could be better than Taylor Swift?" The "9 to 5" singer added, "Yay Taylor, you go!" 

Parton's interview with The Hollywood Reporter included a quote from Swift, who said, "Dolly is a force of evolution and transformation in our industry, but she does it with such playful levity it almost looks effortless." Swift commended Parton for trying new things with her career and added: "She's a legendary empath and the storyteller for the ages. She's also having the most fun doing it."

Elle King has said drinking before performing 'makes me less nervous'

In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune in February 2022, Elle King admitted to sometimes performing drunk, although she is sober for some gigs. "I will say I enjoy both and I really applaud people who are sober," King said. She also said that drinking before performing relaxes her: "Drinking makes me less nervous about hitting the notes when I sing. If I don't make them, it won't sting as much." 

Drinking prior to her "Opry Goes Dolly" performance unfortunately backfired for King. Following that event, King was slated to perform at Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras celebration the following month but was replaced with singer Nessa Barrett. It's possible King canceled that performance herself, though, because five additional shows of hers were moved to later in the year. According to the Los Angeles Times, the news was shared on King's Instagram story, where she said the same tickets could be used at the new shows, or people could get their money back. One of the venues with a rescheduled show — Billy Bob's Texas — told TMZ there wasn't a reason provided for King's performance being moved. 

Whether or not there was another reason for the canceled and rescheduled performances, King's public image definitely took a hit. The Grand Ole Opry apologized to an angry viewer of King's show on X, saying, "Hi Judas, we deeply regret and apologize for the language that was used during last night's second Opry performance." Perhaps the Opry will follow Dolly Parton's footsteps and practice forgiveness, inviting King back one day.