NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Miley Cyrus’ godmother, Dolly Parton has spent a lot of time answering reporters’ questions about the Hannah Montana actress turned pop ingenue as she promotes her new album, “Blue Smoke,” out this week.
Though she says she worries about Cyrus as if she were her own child, she supports the sometimes shocking decisions her goddaughter has made as she moved from child star to a confident — and complicated — young woman.
“I’ll never say anything bad about Miley ‘cause I know she’s smart,” Parton said. “And I know she’s talented. And I know she’s had to go to drastic measures to try to make her point: ‘Leave me alone. I am not Hannah Montana anymore. I want to grow up.’”
The 68-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame member compared Cyrus criticisms to those who chided her when she first came on the scene — a buxom teen with a confident sense of self and style that drew frowns and tsk-tsks from those who expected her to be demure and chaste.
“But I never let that stop me from being the business girl that I was,” Parton said. “I knew my songs were good even if I had been ugly as sin. I felt like I could sing, even if I had been ugly as sin. So I thought, ‘Well, I would have probably chose to look this way even if I had been a waitress.’ I mean, this is my look. I mean, I like a lot of makeup. I like a lot of hair. I like flashy clothes. I like to show it off. But that’s just who I am.”
Though she never changed her image, Parton managed to get folks to pay attention to her music and skills as an entertainer and businesswoman, and not so much to her wardrobe and makeup.
“Blue Smoke” is her first album in three years. She wrote many of the songs on the album, sings duets with Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers and takes a trip into unlikely territory on covers of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” and Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me,” which she gives a Sunday-morning flavor. She recently announced hundreds of millions of dollars in business investments and will tour the world this year.
“And I am not finished yet,” Parton said. “I still have a lot of other business things I want to do. I just think it’s the love of it. I just really try to keep my creative hat on. I just love to write, I love to think. I love the business end of things. I love to work. Energy begets energy. And dreams beget dreams. So I just keep on keeping on.”