They may not have had a lot of money, but the Parton family home was always filled with music.

“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing,” Stella Parton exclusively tells Closer. “A lot of our family on both sides were musicians, singers and songwriters. It’s just a part of our Appalachian upbringing.”

stella dolly parton

In addition to growing up to be a singer-songwriter, Stella, 73, the third eldest girl among 12 Parton siblings, is an actress, producer and author. Her new film, Nothing is Impossible, is an uplifting story about love, second chances and faith. “I am a lifelong person of faith and hope,” explains Stella. “I’ve always thought of myself as a messenger of hope.”

Optimism and hope were plentiful in the little one-room cabin where the Parton children grew up in Pittman Center, Tennessee. “My mother would always say that as long it’s not going to hurt anyone, go ahead and try something,” Stella says. “My parents were very creative in their own lives and encouraged us all to be individuals and pursue our dreams — whatever they may be.”

In addition to making music together, the Parton family were all consummate storytellers. “We didn’t have radio, television, cable and all that stuff when I was growing up,” she notes. “Storytelling was a big part of our family entertainment. The people who told the best stories and could enthrall the children were the ones that were always welcome around the campfire.”

Stella married young and had a son just out of high school. When her marriage didn’t work out, she drew on her performing background to provide for her son. “It wasn’t that I chose to be in this industry,” Stella says. “I was offered an opportunity, and I needed a job. So it was an ideal situation. I could be a hands-on parent and still make a living.” She released her first album in 1967 and achieved her biggest chart topper with “I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight,” which climbed into the country music top 10 in 1975.


Throughout all of her life’s ups-and-downs, Stella has kept a positive attitude. Today, she remains active in charities that support single mothers and victims of domestic abuse because she’s been there. “I’ve been a victim of all that myself. I always promised myself that if I could overcome these things, then I can be an advocate for those who are still struggling,” she says. “I’d like to have people say, ‘If Stella Parton can overcome it, then maybe I can, too.’”

She also has big plans beyond her new movie. Stella is working on a screenplay and is putting together an album, which will be her 40th. “I’m inspired by everyday people,” she says. “It’s not the heroes or the big shots we see on the 6 o’clock news — it’s the everyday people who keep the world turning.”

—Reporting by Katie Bruno