Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? I never have. Dolly is not only my idol because of her incomparable career—she’s also my role model because of her steadfast morals and values. At her core, she is the definition of a humanitarian. She’s also the world’s most impeccably purposeful walking contradiction, having developed her iconic look after being inspired by the town tramp. Now she’s known as a saintly, even godlike, figure.
I remember when she came in to do a table read for Hannah Montana in all her bedazzled glory. Her smell, the way her nails tapped the table, the sound it made when she flipped the pages of the script—I could see that she fascinated other people too. A living fantasy was in front of all of us.
But though she created an identity that she downplays as being built on wigs, lots of gingham and silicone, the foundation for this empire is actually her honesty, truth and her faith. People look to Dolly for guidance, and she knows that. She wears that responsibility with the same grace and pride she rocks a two-piece Nudie suit. She recognizes how impactful her choices will be as one of the most iconic and powerful voices in country music, and she leaves no one behind. Dolly has diligently celebrated the queer community and her Imagination Library provides millions of books for kids. (The only thing Dolly loves more than glitter is children.)
Last year, she donated $1 million to COVID-19 vaccine research, which helped in critical early stages. There’s a multitude of reasons why vaccination is important to protect other people. But it’s also to get the show back on the road and bring live music to our audiences again.
There’s a theory that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but I wish everyone had the chance to meet Dolly Parton, because she’s even better than your sparkliest dreams. She may be my fairy godmother, but I think she’s that to everyone else too. I am happy to share her with the world.
Cyrus is a Grammy-nominated musical artist
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