Terry Wyatt / Getty Images
Growing up in poverty, you would think her childhood would have been the most difficult period of her life. However, life only got harder for Stella Parton – sister to country music icon Dolly Parton – in her adult years.
Leaving home at age 15 to pursue a career in music, Stella instead became married at age 17, a mother by 19, and divorced by 21. Struggling to make ends meet, the single mother worked day in and out to provide money for her son, Tim. One night after working a reception job in Nashville, Stella was asked to drive home a local politician, the drive soon taking a terrifying turn.
Once they were in the car, the man attempted to rape Stella. However, the 24-year-old fought him off and managed to escape the incident with just a broken nose and torn clothing. A few years later, she was kidnapped by someone she knew. Not delving too into the details of the ordeal, Stella revealed the man forcibly took her out of the country where he forced her to stay with his family for 10 days before escaping, choosing to never come forward out of fear of embarrassing her family.
Now 68, Stella is opening up on her dark past. Expanding on her 2011 memoir, Tell It Sister, Tell It, where she revealed the details of her tumultuous past. Instead of hiding her past, she is choosing to embrace it because her past – good or bad – made her who she is.
“If you deny who you are and the things that have happened to you, you’re actually not staying true to yourself,” she shared in an interview with Country Living, before continuing, “And that’s the least we can retain: being true to ourselves in all things. I’ve tried to do that and to embrace myself in struggle and triumph.”
In addition to surviving her battles with assault, Stella has also survived for decades on the music scene as an independent artist.
“Every day is not going to be a tea party. Some days are a struggle, and you just have to bite the bullet and get on with it,” she said in regards to her career in music. “The saddest thing is people who don’t have anything to look forward to because they haven’t figured out their lives. I try to live a creative life that keeps me eternally optimistic and pushing forward even when it seems a little cloudy ahead.”
With 40 years of touring and 30 studio albums later, there really isn’t anything she can’t achieve.