Lainey Wilson Reveals The 'Real Life Wisdom' She Received From Dolly Parton

Photo: Getty Images

Lainey Wilson reflected on the “real life wisdom” she received from beloved country music legend Dolly Parton following her empowering CMA Awards victories earlier this month. The Bell Bottom Country superstar deemed Parton a “real life doll” when she posted photos of the pair on Instagram days earlier.

Wilson shared three photos with Parton, including one posed snapshot and two candid ones that capture the conversation between the two country artists. Wilson said Parton, who handed the Louisiana-born singer-songwriter her ACM Female Vocalist of the Year award earlier this year (when the pair met for the first time), was “passing along real life wisdom” during that moment.

“I was like, ‘how do you keep on going?’ And she said, ‘you gotta have that discernment about what to do, what not to do, and you gotta make sure that whatever decisions you’re making and whatever you’re affiliating with or doing, that you’re really, really passionate about it,’” Wilson said at Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. “Because at the end of the day, people can read right through that. And any time I get to spend with her, it’s incredible. You know how everybody says, ‘don’t meet your heroes?’ Well, I’ll tell you what, that’s not Dolly Parton. She’s everything that I could’ve imagined, and everything that I think everybody needs to strive to be.”

Wilson, who is the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, teamed up with Parton on a stunning cover of “Mama He’s Crazy,” which mother-daughter duo The Judds released in the 1980s. The collaboration appears on the star-studded A Tribute To The Judds album that released in October. Wilson spoke about that experience — and other collaborations, in addition to helping to boost rising artists — after making a surprise appearance at the historic Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. She took a seat on barstool to catch up with iHeartCountry on a Tuesday afternoon in early October.

“It kind of makes you feel like you've got that stamp of approval when other people in the industry are like, ‘I'd like to do a song with you,’ and especially with a Dolly collab, and especially with it being a song of The Judds, I mean, it's crazy how those worlds have kind of collided,” Wilson told iHeartCountry at that time. “I grew up listening to both Dolly and The Judds, and now we're doing a Judds song together. Dolly has taught me so much. The truth is, without even knowing her that well, she has taught me so much about life and just getting to work with her. It makes me feel like, ‘OK, if Dolly agreed to do a song for me, then she believes that I can do it.’ And that's kind how I feel with every collaboration. And that's what I'm ready to do for other people, too. I'm ready to be able to take them under my wing and be like, ‘I believe in you and love you and support you,’ because that goes a long way whether they realize it or not.”