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Dolly Parton is an American treasure. The 75-year-old has been entertaining the world for almost seven decades. It would be tough to find anybody whose life she hasn’t touched in some way, either with her music, extensive humanitarian work, or just her amazingly positive and sunny attitude. Parton is old-fashioned Nashville royalty and is pretty close to everyone in that scene. However, she always has had a special connection with Miley Cyrus, though, and has been considered her Godmother from a young age.

‘Aunt Dolly’ Parton

Dolly Parton during a speech at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards
Dolly Parton next to a bouquet of flowers | Getty Images/Getty Images for ACM

Fans of Cyrus’ early work on Hannah Montana will remember Parton showing up every so often as Aunt Dolly in the show. As anyone who has dived down the rabbit hole of trivia about that show knows, the lines between Cyrus’ real life and TV show fiction were often blurred with Miley’s real-life dad Billy Ray Cyrus playing her fictional dad, Robby Stewart, in the show.

Billy Ray Cyrus and Dolly Parton are old friends, though, and the legendary singer has been close with Miley since she was a baby. Miley grew up as Destiny Hope Cyrus before changing her name to Miley Ray Cyrus officially in 2008 to honor her father’s middle name and his nickname for her of “smiley.” Parton was close with (then) Destiny from early childhood and always grew up as part of the family. ‘Aunt Dolly’ wasn’t just TV, as that’s what Miley really calls Parton.

How Dolly Parton became Cyrus’ godmother

While the two often refer to each other as godmother and goddaughter, both have been very clear the title is more honorific than anything. However, while it doesn’t seem like there was any formalization of her being Miley’s godmother, it seems like Parton is, for all intents and purposes, as close to an official godmother as Miley has. Parton told ABC in a 2009 interview, “Her father’s a friend of mine, and when she was born, he said, ‘You just have to be her godmother,’ and I said, ‘I accept.’ We never did do a big ceremony, but I’m so proud of her, love her, and she’s just like one of my own.”

Godparents are a pretty loose definition within society anyway. Though some faiths assign a lot of reverence and formality to this title, godmother is a cultural term, not a legal one. A godmother to most is somebody who’s there for you through your life, and you can always count on when your parents can’t help. It seems like Parton has always filled that role perfectly for Miley Cyrus, and even if she insists that the title is honorary, she may be the best godmother anyone could hope for.

Watching a diva grow


Dolly Parton Once Compared Her Goddaughter Miley Cyrus to Elvis

Parton has been involved in Cyrus’ entire life and has been overjoyed to watch her mature and grow both personally and musically. In an interview with Marie Claire, Parton was once asked about Cyrus and when she knew that she would grow into something special. “When she was on Hannah Montana. I’ve always loved her, since she was little, and I knew she was special. She just had a light about her. Her sparkle, and her smile, and her eyes were always full of wonder,” the star gushed. “So, when she was on that little show, I saw what great timing she had, what a great little comedian she was.”

She went on in the interview to discuss how gratifying it was to watch Cyrus mature as a musician over the years. She also waved away concerns that Cyrus may be too controversial to get the approval of someone like Dolly Parton, saying, “I love Miley. I think she’s great. She’s out there, and I love that she takes her chances. I love that she’s true to herself and that she’s willing to try new things and do whatever. “