The Truth About Miley Cyrus And Dolly Parton's Relationship

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus are queens of the music industry. While Parton is an undisputed country music legend and all-around icon, Cyrus is a pop superstar. But the "Jolene" songstress is much more than a beloved celebrity to Cyrus, as she is essentially a member of Cyrus' family. 

If you were a fan of Disney's Hannah Montana, you likely remember Parton's recurring guest role as Miley Stewart's "Aunt Dolly." Of course, as fans of both Parton and Cyrus know, the country legend's character on the show isn't too far removed from the role she plays in Cyrus' actual life. Parton is the "Wrecking Ball" singer's godmother — but, according to Cyrus, Parton isn't exactly a big fan of that particular term. "She doesn't really let me call her a godmother," Cyrus said in a February 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight. She continued, revealing, "She likes fairy godmother much better." 

So, what does Cyrus' fairy godmother think about her dramatic evolution from Disney star to provocative pop princess? Here's an inside look at Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus' relationship. 

Dolly Parton was once rumored to be having an affair with Miley Cyrus' father

Before Dolly Parton became Miley Cyrus' godmother, she acted as a mentor to the pop star's famous father, Billy Ray Cyrus. In a 2018 interview with Dan Rather, Billy Ray recalled how Parton helped his country music career, telling Rather, "When ['Achy Breaky Heart'] came out, Dolly put me on her tour as an opening act." However, as Cyrus revealed, his early professional relationship with Parton was plagued with rumors that the two were romantically involved. 

"Some of the headlines in the tabloids had Dolly and myself, pictures of us and saying something was going on," he told Rather. The "Old Town Road" singer revealed he was "so upset" about the tabloid headlines and rumors — especially since, at that point, he barely knew Parton. As Billy Ray tells it, he went to Parton to apologize for the vicious rumors concerning them both; however, the "9 to 5" singer had quite a different outlook on the tabloid drama.

"She looked as me, and she said, 'Honey, that s*** sells records,'" he revealed, laughing. He continued, telling Rather, "From that moment on, we became very good friends."

Dolly Parton chose Miley Cyrus to be her fairy goddaughter

Dolly Parton was never romantically involved with Billy Ray Cyrus; however, the platonic love between the two proved strong enough to continue far beyond their first tour together. After getting to know the iconic songstress and laughing off any rumors of a secret romance, he even went on to star as the male lead in the music video for Parton's song "Romeo." 

Parton credits her friendship with Billy Ray to their shared roots. Speaking with Jennifer Hutt on Sirius XM's Just Jenny show, Parton revealed, "We just kind of gelled, 'cause we're both country kids." The "Coat of Many Colors" singer continued, saying, "We had a lot of fun just talking about that." Cyrus and Parton's country roots provided a steady foundation for a long-lasting friendship — and, when Miley Cyrus was born in November 1992, Parton made it clear that she wanted to be a major part of the future pop star's life, as well. 

Recalling the "Malibu" singer's birth, Parton told the Just Jenny host, "When Miley came along, I said, 'She's got to be my fairy goddaughter." 

Dolly Parton wanted Miley Cyrus to play this titular character in her Netflix show

Dolly Parton's roster of country tunes is seemingly endless, and it's nearly impossible to choose only one favorite. However, one song of Parton's is particularly memorable both for its melody and the story it tells. Released in 1973, "Jolene" features a forlorn Parton singing about a mysterious woman with "flaming locks of auburn hair" named Jolene. Parton pleads with Jolene throughout the tune, singing, "I'm begging of you please don't take my man." It's an undeniably catchy song — as well as a go-to karaoke pick for aspiring Dolly Partons everywhere.

In November 2019, Netflix released Heartstrings — an eight-episode anthology series inspired by eight of Parton's most beloved songs. In the episode titled "Jolene," Julianne Hough plays a red-headed singer-songwriter whose flirtatious ways seemingly threaten a marriage. However, Parton revealed to Entertainment Tonight that Hough wasn't her first pick for the role. 

"Years back when I used to think of Jolene ... I used to think ... Miley [Cyrus] would have been great at that as well," the country icon said. However, as Parton explained, Miley Cyrus' busy schedule didn't leave much time for filming. 

Dolly Parton was shocked by Miley Cyrus' evolution

You don't have to be a Miley Cyrus superfan to know the pop star is far from the Disney darling she once was. In a 2019 interview with Elle, Cyrus revealed she knew at age 18 that she needed to shed her Hannah Montana persona. "The minute I had sex, I was kind of like, I can't put the f***ing wig on again," Cyrus said. She continued, admitting, "It got weird. It just felt like... I was grown up."

Since leaving Hannah Montana behind, Cyrus has been the subject of countless headlines and controversial moments — namely, twerking on Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, her experimental album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, and her dramatic style evolution. And there's plenty of celebs who can't stand Miley Cyrus.

In an interview with Us Weekly, Dolly Parton was asked if she was shocked by her goddaughter's transformation into a "sexpot," to which the country songstress replied, "Well yeah, but in a good way." Parton continued, "I had to laugh, I thought 'Wow,' but I realized she had to do it, she had to go to that extreme, so bless her heart." Plus it's not like Dolly Parton hasn't had her own stunning transformation over the years.

Miley Cyrus had Dolly Parton's full support when transitioning from Hannah Montana

Not everyone was onboard with Miley Cyrus' shocking transformation from a squeaky-clean Disney star to a provocative pop singer. However, despite the overwhelming concerns of those who had watched Cyrus blossom into an adult on TV, one person in the pop star's life was unwavering in her confidence that Cyrus would make the right decisions and prove her critics wrong. Of course, that person was none other than Cyrus' fairy godmother, Dolly Parton. 

When Cyrus was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Parton penned a dedication to the star, writing, "If I didn't know how smart and talented Miley is, I might worry about her." Parton continued, writing, "But I've watched her grow up. So I don't."

The country music legend added, "She was very proud of the work she did as Hannah Montana, but people were gonna leave her there forever. And she was just smotherin' and chokin' in it. So she felt she had to do something completely drastic. And she did."

Dolly Parton advised Miley Cyrus to be cautious and careful in her marriage to Liam Hemsworth

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's strange on-again, off-again relationship has been the subject of much tabloid fodder throughout the years. After meeting in 2009 on the set of The Last Song, the two were spotted kissing at a Nashville, Tenn. airport. Shortly thereafter, in March 2010, Cyrus and Hemsworth made their red carpet debut, and — despite a short break in the summer of 2010 — the couple's relationship remained steady for years, leading to their 2012 engagement. However, in 2013, Cyrus confirmed that the wedding was off. 

The two went their separate ways until 2016, when they announced they were once again together and happily engaged. When asked if she had any marriage advice for her goddaughter, Dolly Parton told Digital Spy, "I just say to be respectful and mindful of the other person's feelings and try to compromise when you need to." The songstress continued, "I would say be cautious and be careful. And be loving and kind!"

Though they wed in an intimate December 2018 ceremony, Hemsworth filed for divorce from Cyrus in August 2019. 

Miley Cyrus reminds Dolly Parton of another music legend

While Whitney Houston's heart-wrenching rendition of the ballad is perhaps the most well-known version, "I Will Always Love You" was actually written and first performed by Dolly Parton as a farewell song to her longtime collaborator, Porter Wagoner. According to Parton (via CNBC), "I Will Always Love You" was such a hit that even the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, wanted to record his own take on the song. However, upon learning Presley would only record covers if he received "half the publishing," Parton was forced to make the difficult decision to deny his request. 

Despite not seeing eye-to-eye about the business of it all, Parton still seems to have much respect for Presley. In fact, as she revealed to The Boot in 2012, her famous goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, reminds her of the rock and roll legend. "She's like a little Elvis," Parton told the publication. She continued, saying, "The kids love her because she's Hannah Montana, but what people don't realize about her is she is such a fantastic singer and songwriter. She writes songs like she's 40 years old! She's really deep." 

That's certainly high praise!

Dolly Parton has taught Miley Cyrus some important lessons about fame

Despite her icon status, Dolly Parton is one of those celebrities who seems to radiate kindness, warmth, and a down-to-earth spirit. While she might have superstar money now, Parton has never forgotten where she came from — the small Tennessee mountain home in which she was raised. Fame hasn't caused Dolly to forget her roots; instead, her success has inspired the star to generously give back and care for others. 

"We're supposed to care about each other, and I try my best to do that," Parton told The Boot in a 2016 interview. She continued, saying, "I pray every day that God will lead me and direct me and bring all the right, the good, things in, take all the wrong, the bad, things out."

It seems Parton has passed her personal philosophy on to her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. In a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan, the "Wrecking Ball" singer revealed the best part about having Parton as a godmother, saying she loves "watching the way [Parton] treats people with love and respect." Cyrus continued, saying Parton is a reminder to "never let success change your heart."

You'll never catch Dolly Parton bad-mouthing Miley Cyrus

In October 2019, Dolly Parton celebrated a very special milestone — her 50-year anniversary as a member of the historic Grand Ole Opry. Speaking with Extra about the momentous occasion, Parton shared just how much it meant to her, revealing, "That was my dream as a child, to sing at the Opry and become a member!" 

However, Parton's big week was a bit overshadowed by goddaughter Miley Cyrus' relationship drama. From her split from her husband, Liam Hemsworth, to her short-lived fling with Kaitlynn Carter, to her buzzed-about rumored relationship with Cody Simpson — Miley Cyrus' love life seemed to be a constant in the celebrity news cycle. Still, Cyrus' fairy godmother refused to speculate or talk negatively about the pop star when asked for a comment. 

"Miley is so talented. She has a good head on her shoulders. I think she does some stuff just for shock value, and just because she's young she can afford that," Parton told Extra. The country icon continued, "I will never, ever bad-mouth Miley, no matter what she does. I just always hope she comes out the other end alright."

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus wrote this song together to make a statement

In September 2017, Miley Cyrus revealed that "Rainbowland," a song from her then-soon-to-be-released sixth studio album, Younger Now, would feature Dolly Parton on guest vocals. However, Parton didn't just lend her vocal talent to the song — she also served as the tune's co-writer. Speaking with Taste of Country Nights, Parton revealed the song's deeper meaning. "It's really just about dreaming and hoping that we could all do better," the country star said. She continued, "It's a good song for the times right now."

In an interview with NME, Cyrus called out a particular lyric from the song. "One line is such a Dolly lyric – it says, 'We are rainbows, me and you / Every color, every hue,'" the pop star revealed. She continued, explaining, "Because a rainbow's not a rainbow without all the different colors."

Describing the inspiration for the song, Cyrus told the Recording Academy, "We wanted to write a song that could really make a difference ... that could speak to the current situation of not only our country but the world."

Dolly Parton admires Miley Cyrus' authentic voice

There's no questioning the fact that Dolly Parton is one of a kind. While she's no stranger to being imitated, Parton's raw talent, songwriting abilities, and larger-than-life persona simply cannot be duplicated. Of course, there have been artists since Parton's rise to fame that have made their own major impact within the music industry, as well as pop culture as a whole (we're looking at you, Taylor Swift). However, it's safe to say there will never be another Dolly.

In a 2014 interview with The Telegraph, Parton was asked if she thought it was possible for "young pretenders" like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift to access the same kind of authenticity in their music that Parton has embodied throughout the entirety of her country music career. Parton responded, "Well, Miley does have that 'ole time feeling from her daddy [Billy Ray] and the way he grew up. Through her grandparents in Kentucky she is connected to that earthy feeling and attitude." The "Here You Come Again" songstress continued, saying, "I promise you that [Cyrus will] surprise the world with her talent through the years."

Miley Cyrus has praised Dolly Parton for pushing boundaries in country music

When Dolly Parton is your godmother (your fairy godmother, no less), it's only natural that people will want to ask you about her — even if you're a giant pop star yourself. Fortunately, Miley Cyrus doesn't seem to mind the questions she gets regarding her relationship with her legendary godmother. In fact, the "Don't Call Me Angel" songstress doesn't shy away from gushing about the woman who's been such a major influence throughout her entire life. 

While discussing her sixth studio album, Younger Now, in a 2017 interview with NPR, Cyrus was asked to reveal Parton's words of wisdom for navigating stardom and all it entails, and ensuring a long lasting career. "The best thing that she does is she's not afraid to laugh at herself," Cyrus responded. She continued, "And she pushed the boundaries for country music, by looking the way that she does, and saying the things that she says, and being sexual in that way." 

Added the pop star, "She does it because she likes it. If you want to be pushing the boundaries, you have to like it."

Dolly Parton communicates with Miley Cyrus in an unusual way

Dolly Parton's superstardom spans across multiple generations, and her music has become the soundtrack for the lives of people of all ages. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Parton has been able to carve out a place for herself in the current zeitgeist, proving herself just as relevant today as she was decades ago. With her signature blonde wigs, sparkling outfits, and undeniable talent, it's safe to say Parton will never go out of style.

However, while Parton has gracefully welcomed new generations with ease, it seems her preferred style of correspondence is stuck in the past. In a 2018 interview on the KISS FM breakfast show (via the Mirror), Miley Cyrus revealed that her godmother is a sucker for a fax machine. 

"I have faxes from Dolly Parton, hand-signed also. She faxes," Cyrus revealed. The pop star continued, "I obviously don't have a fax machine, especially when I'm traveling. When I have one of those it's like 'Where's the nearest fax machine?' I then have it sent to someone that can get the fax. Then they put it digital for my phone."

Dolly Parton isn't worried about Miley Cyrus

At the beginning of 2019, Miley Cyrus seemed as if she'd decided to permanently say goodbye to the days of having her personal life used as fodder for supermarket tabloids. After rekindling her romance with Australian actor Liam Hemsworth in 2016, Cyrus looked happier, healthier, and more in love than ever — and, in December 2018, the two finally tied the knot in a romantic ceremony surrounded by their closest family and friends. 

However, in August 2019, a representative for Cyrus confirmed that she and Hemsworth had made the decision to separate. Of course, it didn't take long for Cyrus' personal life to become front and center in the media once again, along with rumors surrounding her much-anticipated seventh studio album, She Is Miley Cyrus.

Despite Cyrus' roller coaster of a year, Dolly Parton remained confident that the pop star has everything under control. "Miley's smart; Miley knows what she's doing," Parton told People in a November 2019 interview. She continued, "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."