When Tennessee mountain songbird Dolly Parton met "California Gurl" Katy Perry to perform a medley of some of Parton's most iconic hits at the 51st ACM Awards earlier this month, the pairing of the country legend and the pop princess inspired some wide-eyed looks — and not just for their splashy, form-fitting stage wear or the predictable jokes both singers made at their own expense. But viewers who may have been skeptical about Perry's appearance at the country awards show also witnessed the admiration and reverence the "I Kissed a Girl" singer has for Parton and her songs, including "Coat of Many Colors," "9 to 5" and "Jolene," which made up the irresistibly playful medley the two performed.
Perry was also on hand to present the Country Music Hall of Famer with the Tex Ritter Award, for Parton's work on the NBC television film Coat of Many Colors, based on the song that captured both sweet and painful memories of growing up in East Tennessee.
Parton, who has performed duets with a wide variety of artists throughout her career, from Kenny Rogers to Culture Club's Boy George, not only walked away from the ACMs with yet another trophy for her shelf, she also scored bragging rights with her younger relatives, and found a common bond with Perry, whose Pentecostal raising mirrored her own childhood.
"Katy Perry is a living doll," the iconic entertainer tells Rolling Stone. "I like her because she is very upfront, open, honest and funny. I like her approach to her music. She's a very talented and serious songwriter and I always appreciate that. I look forward to getting to know her better personally as we have a lot in common. . . our love for songwriting and our similar upbringing. It was a joy getting to sing with her on the ACMs. I was a hit with my nieces, nephews and my young friends as they can't believe I met Katy Perry. I met a girl and I liked her!"
Parton will spotlight another classic pairing this summer with the release of a double LP. Pure & Simple and Dolly's Biggest Hits will contain a disc of all-new material coupled with some of her most recognizable chart-toppers. She's also stripping things down on stage for a 60-city North American tour this summer.
Katy Perry was previously joined by country's Kacey Musgraves on the 2014 Prismatic World Tour, as well as an episode of the genre-hopping CMT Crossroads series.
(Reporting by Patrick Doyle)