There’s never a bad time to honor Dolly Parton.
Given that she agreed to lend her talents, the diva-studded tribute to Parton at Sunday’s Grammy Awards couldn’t possibly have gone wrong. She’s always been the perfect musical success story, equally (and remarkably) skilled as an artist and a performer. Talented as they are, not one of the women who took the stage with her will ever manage to be as impressive at both.
Parton blended beautifully with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus on “Jolene.” Their collaboration was the highlight of the segment, which also featured Kacey Musgraves (whose voice was perfect on “Here You Come Again”), Katy Perry, Maren Morris, and Little Big Town. Morris joined Parton and Cyrus on Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” which Parton recorded on the fantastic second “Trio” album with Emmylou Harris and Linda Rondstadt. The ending of “Red Shoes” was a reminder that even after decades of public life, she’s stayed true to her faith as well.
The menswear-inspired look Cyrus wore, coupled with Katy Perry’s pixie cut, accentuated Parton’s characteristically hyperfeminine get-up, which almost felt refreshing amid all the trending androgyny (which isn’t entirely bad). Her ability to loudly project both artistic authority and brazen female sexuality is probably responsible for breaking barriers that opened the industry for pop stars like Cyrus and Perry. The key difference is that Dolly never resorted to chasing easy shock value quite like either of them. How anyone who modeled her look after the “town tramp” could manage to be so classy remains an eternal mystery.