We had a chance to sit down with Stella Parton during the 2014 CMA Fest in Nashville. Check out what she had to say in what turned out to be a wonderfully honest and engaging interview!
Q. What projects are you working on right now?
A. Actually, I’ve got a brand new dance album out called Resurrection. It’s a lot of older hits, some new songs that we’ve remixed for dance clubs, and so, I’ve had a lot of fun with it, we’re calling it Resurrection; you can find that on StellaParton.com and listen to some samples of it, we’ve got a couple of videos of me performing some of it. It’s been a lot of fun because I don’t dress up like myself, I dress up like in character and just kinda do different characters, depending on the club I’m working in, and I’m working on an album of archival music that I’ve rediscovered in my archives, and it’s going to be called Buried Treasures, and there’s gonna be some really special songs that were produced by a very special person, who is no longer with us, that will be on this project, and it will be called Buried Treasures. So I’m very excited about that, we’re working on a tour for Australia and New Zealand for next year, and The Red Tent Conference was very successful, and we’ll be taking that over a week before the tour starts to Australia and New Zealand, and I’ll be doing speaking engagements before the concert tour begins, and it’s going to be our Red Tent Conference over there, so we’re launching that in Australia and New Zealand, so I’m real happy about that. And…also being considered for a reoccurring role in a new Fox TV pilot called The Sparrows, and I’m supposed to be on the soundtrack, so that’s an exciting prospect right there, so we’ll see how that all works out.
Q. Outside of music, what is something that you are very passionate about?
A. Cookin’…Reading…I love to cook for my friends and family and it’s just a way that I feel like I can…it’s therapy for me, I love to get in the kitchen and not think about things and just create new recipes and nurture people that I care about that way.
Q. What’s been the biggest “Wow” moment of your career?
A. I think I’m still waiting for the next “Wow!” I think every day I wake up and do something is like a “Wow” moment. Today was a “Wow” moment for me when one of the interviewers shared with me that my book had changed the life of two women that he knew, and I thought, “Well, I’m still doing something right!” And that’s all you want to do, is get information like that, get that kind of feedback so you know you that you’re on the right track that you’re not just…it’s not just about yourself, it’s about what you…taking the opportunities you have and sharing that with others and embellishing other peoples lives right along with your own.
Q. Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio and what was your reaction like?
A. It was pretty cool! (laughs) It was really cool! I think I was probably about 10 or 11 years old! Singing on my uncle Bill’s rockabilly records with my sister’s Dolly and Cassie, and we were backup singers, and we sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks, but we were so excited with ourselves, we didn’t realize (laughing) we sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks, it was like “Oh we’re on the radio!” Aaah, we still sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks, don’t we a little bit (laughing)? But it was pretty fun!
Q. If you weren’t doing music for a career, what would you be doing?
A. I think that what I wanted to be was a Missionary, and probably I would’ve gone on and gotten a degree in Social Work, ya know, I would’ve been a Social Worker or a Missionary of some sort but in a way I feel like I’ve been that through my music. I’ve been able to do that missionary work, I continue to do that with the conferences and with the book writing, and just trying to be a positive influence and make people laugh and think and cry when I’m on stage. I love to see a song a song that I’m performing, that I’m interpreting a lyric that has so much passion in it that people have tears on their face during the song, and I love to say somethin’ that makes people laugh and have an entire audience rolling in laughter. I mean, that’s really powerful! And so to me it lets me know that I’m in the saddle of my life, it’s like I’m really in the pocket.
Q. Did you ever pass up on recording a song that went on to be a hit for someone else?
A. Yeah but I’m not gonna talk about it! (laughs) ‘Cause sometimes you just don’t like certain songs and I’ve got a couple of hits that I don’t really…I didn’t like the songs…still don’t like ’em but I still have to do them every show. And I don’t tell people, “I don’t like that song!” You do get sick of some of them and it’s ironic that you’re biggest records are your least favorite songs that you’ve recorded, for me anyway. But the way you keep your show fresh is by inserting new songs, new arrangements on some of the older songs, and just kinda recreate it as a new arrangement, and then it becomes a whole new piece of work.
Q. What’s the #1 item on your Bucket List?
A. #1 item on my bucket list would probably be still to jump out of an airplane…with a parachute of course! (laughs) Yeah I still wanna do that! I think I’ll probably try that this year. I’ve been trying to get that done since I was 40 and every time I would try to do it…if I don’t get it done pretty soon, I’ll be so old I’ll be like George Bush trying to jump out of a plane, so I’m a gonna do it pretty soon!
Q. What are your thoughts on the state of today’s country music?
A. Well, I think it’s alright. I think today’s country music is not the country music that was during the height of my career, but I don’t like to criticize people. And I don’t like to criticize where life is going, I don’t like to say, “wellll, ya know…that happened and this happened.” I don’t feel that that’s, as an artist that we have a right to do that. I think that we should just be authentic, stand in our own integrity, and let everybody else do what they need to do. At the same time, I don’t appreciate it when younger artists refer to some of us as “old farts” and stuff like that, and that was a biig insult to some of us…my generation would NEVER have done that to the older generation, so I think some of the newer generation needs to stop being so arrogant and cocky, but I think life will take care of them just in time… they’ll humble themselves. Life has a way of leveling the playing field, doesn’t it?
Q. What advice would you give to an aspiring artist trying to make it in the music business?
A. The advice I always give to an aspiring artist is to work hard, to believe in yourself, believe you have a right to your dreams, everyone else has a right to their dreams, and so do you…and don’t think you’re so good that you shouldn’t take any opportunity that’s presented. If you’re trying to promote yourself, take any job. Don’t worry if the band is perfect, don’t worry if the sound is perfect, don’t worry if you like the promoter…if you get a chance to work in front of an audience, don’t be cranky. Just get out there and do it. Don’t wait for the perfect situation, just get your butt out there and work! You never know who is out there in the audience.