Dolly Parton’s Family Was Traumatized When She First Left Home, Sister Stella Parton Says

Dolly Parton’s family has always been supportive of her dreams. However, when it came time for her to go after the life she wanted for herself, the singer’s family was overcome with emotion as it was the first time one of their own had left the nest.

Dolly and Stella Parton
Dolly Parton and Stella Parton attending the premiere of Warner Bros. Television’s “Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors” in 2015 | JB Lacroix/WireImage

Dolly Parton left home to become a country music star

Since she was a child, Parton has loved music. Growing up, she was surrounded by music as many of her family members sang and played instruments.

At an early age, she learned about music while performing in church. Eventually, Parton received her first guitar from a relative and soon began writing and recording her own tunes.

When she was a teenager, Parton and her Uncle Bill Owens would periodically drive to Nashville to try and jumpstart their careers.

“My Uncle Bill and I had been going back and forth to Nashville all my young years,” wrote Parton in her 2020 book, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “We’d take along whatever food we had and go, trying to get people to record us, to listen to us. We would sleep in the car. My bedroom was in the back, and his was in the front seat.”

The day after graduating from Sevier County High School in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams of making it big as a country music star.

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in 1965 in Nashville, Tennessee | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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In 1965, she signed to Monument Records. It was there she recorded her first singles as a bubblegum pop artist, much to her dismay.

Two years later, Parton signed with RCA Records, with the help of country music entertainer Porter Wagoner, and began recording country hits that have since made her the music icon she’s known as today.

Dolly Parton’s departure was ‘scary’ for her family

In 2016, Parton’s younger sister, Stella, appeared on the British television program Lorraine, where she opened up about the singer’s first time leaving home.

Though the “Jolene” hitmaker’s loved ones knew that she had dreams of making it big as a country artist, Stella reveals that she and the family were “traumatized” when Dolly left Tennessee to further her career in Nashville.

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“She has her dreams. We all have dreams, and we all have a right to them. My sister was more of an extrovert than myself,” Stella shared. “I’m more of a person who’s self-contained. I like to kind of think things out and really analyze it before I jump in the middle of anything.”

She continued, “It was kind of traumatic for us because that was the first time any of us had left home. My oldest sister had married [but] she stayed in the community.”

Like any supportive family, the Parton’s worried about Dolly making it on her own in the real world. However, the singer proved that she’s resilient.

“It was scary for all of us,” Stella said. “But she was brave, and it worked out.”