Actor Leslie Jordan just made a gospel album of Southern gospel standards: one of his guests includes his lifelong musical idol, Dolly Parton.

Meeting Dolly was a dream come true for Jordan and in the ACM Awards’s virtual press room Jordan told a story about seeing Dolly play a show in 1973. “I drove from Chattanooga, Tennessee, all the way up to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Sevierville — that area. The rumor was Dolly was coming back to perform in the high school auditorium.”

Much later on in life, after he and Parton had officially met, he would relay this story to her. “She said, ‘What year was that?’ and I said, ”’73 … Dolly, I can also tell you what your opening line was.’ She goes, ‘No you can’t, because I think you’re making this up.'”

“I said, ‘Dolly, I was there. It was 1973. You walked onstage and said, ‘What’s a country girl without her haystack?!’ Because her hair was like this,” Jordan says, “She goes, ‘You were there!'”

Leslie also said that, having gotten to know Dolly, he’s realized something important: “I’ll tell you what I tell everybody: You don’t have to meet Dolly. You know Dolly. Dolly is exactly what you think she is … I just wanna live my life like her. There’s nobody that doesn’t like Dolly!”

Gallery: Dolly Parton Always Smiling

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