When Janelle Arthur competed on American Idol season 12 back in 2013, part of her backstory was that she played Dolly Parton as an 8 year old actor in a production of her musical life story, Paradise Road. When the young country singer covered Dolly’s “Dumb Blond” on the show, the legend reached out to Janelle with some kind words, after the judges gave her negative reviews on her performances that week.
“Don’t feel bad that you didn’t get great reviews…you’re very talented and very special,” Dolly wrote. Unfortunately, Janelle was eliminated that week in 5th place.
Flash forward to 2021. Janelle, on a whim, contacted Dolly and asked if she’d appear on her new song, “Hand Me Downs.” And she said YES. Janelle wrote and co-produced “Hand Me Downs,” which is a song that celebrates family, her mother in particular.
“This song is so special to me for many reasons,” Janelle told Sounds Like Nashville. “Not only am I singing with one of my greatest musical heroes, but the sound of my mother’s heartbeat is heard throughout the song. I really wanted to arrange a choir section, so I brought in a few close friends and family members to sing. Having them included gives it an even deeper meaning as well.”
“I’d be honored to sing on ‘Hand Me Downs,’” Dolly reportedly replied when Janelle asked her to appear on the song. “Us East Tennessee girls gotta stick together.”
Listen to Janelle Arthur and Dolly Parton sing “Hand Me Downs” below.
On Instagram, Janelle expressed gratitude that Dolly believed in her and the song enough to lend her voice to the tune. She writes, alongside photos of a young Janelle getting a big hug from Dolly.
“At only 8yrs old, I was chosen to play a young @dollyparton in the production “Paradise Road”. From the last pictures (swipe) you can see that I was a happy girl to get a hug from Dolly” Janelle continued, “Now, to have a duet with her coming out THIS WEEK is the ultimate “full circle” experience for me. I’m so thankful for her heart and her belief in me/this song.”
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