Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn are two of the most iconic and influential singers in country music history. They have been friends for over five decades and have often called each other sisters. But are they actually related by blood? Here’s what we know.
The Beginning of a Friendship
Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn met in the 1960s as up-and-coming artists in the country sphere. As Parton wrote in the foreword for Lynn’s 2020 book “Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust”, they got to know each other “because we were both girl singers, so to speak, on two of the biggest-ever syndicated country music shows.” They relied on each other for support during their appearances on “The Wilburn Brothers Show” and The Porter Wagoner Show.” As Parton recalled, she felt like they could lean on each other when nerves were high. “I think we could both smile with each other and say, ‘Hey, girl, we’re doin’ all right, ain’t we?!” Both singers were “very proud” of themselves for “being able to withstand all that we did and just stand up there with the best of them,” especially since country music was still male-dominated at the time. The path they paved enabled more women to become country icons and provided a strong support network between them.
Not Related by Blood, but by Heart
Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn are not related by blood. They are friends who have been in Nashville for over three decades and call each other sisters. Loretta Lynn has a sister who is also a country singer, Crystal Gayle. Dolly Parton paid tribute to Loretta Lynn after her passing at 90.
“So sorry to hear about my sister, friend Loretta,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “We’ve been like sisters all the years we’ve been in Nashville and she was a wonderful human being, wonderful talent, and had millions of fans and I was one of them. I miss her dearly as we all will.”
Many other musicians and celebrities shared their heartfelt tributes to Lynn, but Parton’s has been by far the one that has impacted fans the most.
A Supergroup of Country Legends
In 1993, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn teamed up with another country legend, Tammy Wynette, to form a supergroup called Honky Tonk Angels. They released an album of the same name, featuring classic songs like “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” and “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number six on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
The trio also performed together at the Grand Ole Opry and appeared on various TV shows. They planned to record a second album, but Wynette passed away in 1998 before they could do so.
Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn remained close friends until Lynn’s death in 2022. They celebrated each other’s achievements, such as Parton’s 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry and Lynn’s Presidential Medal of Freedom. They also collaborated on songs like “Country” from Lynn’s 2016 album Full Circle.
Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn may not have been sisters by blood, but they were sisters by heart. Their friendship was one of the most enduring and inspiring in country music history.