Dolly Parton’s niece, Heidi Parton, celebrated the release of her debut album, “This Kind of Love,” on Monday, October 23 at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa at a listening party for family, friends, and members of the media.
This special evening was a time for Heidi to share some of the amazing vocal talents that she has been honing on stage since the very early age of four. Obviously, musical ability runs in the family, and Heidi has had some awe-inspiring musical influences in her life. The evening was also a time to get to know her a little better personally as she shared the inspiration behind the album and songs.
Heidi started the evening by singing two beautiful songs from her album for us live: “I’ll Be Turning To You” and “This Kind of Love,” the title track. We then had the pleasure of listening to the recordings of the other tracks from her album as she introduced them and shared the inspiration behind each. Afterwards, members of the media had an opportunity to interview her one-on-one.
Before she began singing her first song, a special video that had been recorded earlier by Dolly Parton, whom Heidi and Dolly’s other nieces and nephews call “Aunt Granny,” or just “Granny,” was played. Dolly offered her support and congratulations, saying,
“Hey Heidi Lou. It’s your Aunt Granny, Aunt Dolly. I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you. I wish I could be there with you. I know it’s going to be a special night for you. I cannot wait to hear all the album and get into all the music ‘cause I think you’re absolutely wonderful, and I love you, truly!”
Heidi seemed truly touched to have such support from her loved ones that night, and the influence of her family on her life, both personally and musically, was visibly apparent.
When I had the opportunity to sit down with Heidi, I asked her about her greatest influences. She immediately said, “Granny’s amazing! If you’re gonna follow in someone’s footsteps, there are no better footsteps to follow. Mighty big footsteps – but amazing ones!”
Growing up, Heidi has always been in the midst of performers, and she acknowledges that her greatest inspiration has been her father Randy Parton, Dolly’s brother. Randy has been a successful recording artist and performer, and Heidi says, “My dad let me onstage with him, and I remember sitting in a stroller and going, ‘I wanna do that! That’s what I want to do!’ And I’ve been doing it ever since!”
Her father produced Heidi’s album, “This Kind of Love,” and sings backup on several songs. He also performs a duet with Heidi on one of the songs, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Heidi also told us she always has thought her dad sounds a lot like Roy Orbison, and so she included Orbison’s version of “You Got It” on the album in honor of her dad.
As Heidi described the first track of the album, “Think About Love,” a song originally recorded by Dolly, she says, “Aunt Granny did it.” Heidi loved the song and decided to make it the number one track on her album.
She never really intended it, but she says the album has turned out to be a story about “love.”
“When you listen to the CD, you’ll notice everything goes in an absolute list, basically, of a love that starts, the middle, the end, and even a godly love,” Heidi said.
The music has a wide range – from Dolly’s music to 80s country and pop, and I even detected a very soulful “Memphis Blues” sound in some of the songs. Heidi agreed, saying, “I’m a huge K.T. Oslin fan and [artists of the 80s such as] Bruce Hornsby, Eddie Rabbit, Sweethearts of the Rodeo…80s country is probably some of my biggest inspirations, but I also love soulful. I love ALL music!”
The title track, “This Kind of Love,” is indeed soulful. As she described how it came to be on the album, Heidi said that many who have heard it have told her that “if you don’t have a heart, even if you don’t, that song will give you all the feels. It’s one of my favorites; I put a lot into that song.” And it shows.
It is also apparent that faith and spirituality play an important role in Heidi’s life and musical selections. Dolly’s sister, her aunt Rachel Parton Dennison, wrote one of the songs on the album that Heidi said she was very excited to do: “I Am Ready.” This song is an a cappella arrangement with beautiful harmonies and is incredibly emotional and spiritual.
I asked Heidi about one of the other “songs of faith” that she sang live for us, “I’ll Be Turning to You.”
I found this song incredibly moving and memorable and have been singing it to myself ever since.
The final song on the album is a cover of “Circle of Love,” the title track from Dolly Parton’s television movie, “Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.”
Indeed, Heidi is surrounded by a circle of love of her family and friends. She has had a talented and tight circle of love in which to learn and grow her musical chops. But based on this debut album, I believe that we’ll get to see her expand her circle very quickly as her musical career continues to grow.
As a Dollywood Insider, I of course had to ask her if she had anything to say to fans and frequent visitors of Dollywood, where she got her start singing shows with her kinfolk – most recently in the “My People” show:
And Heidi assured me that she will still continue to sing in the “My People” show:
Finally, I asked Heidi if she has plans for another album and what we can expect from her in the future: