Dolly Parton’s niece says it’s ‘amazing’ to discover family’s Welsh roots

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Dolly Parton’s niece Jada Star has said it’s “so wonderful” to discover more about the family’s heritage, ahead of a new documentary that is reportedly scheduled for release next year.

Star, who is also a singer, claimed in an interview last week that the country music legend had traced her ancestry to the Welsh valleys, as part of the four-part programme.

Parton, who was born in Tennessee, has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is known for her hit songs including “Jolene”, “9 to 5”, and “I Will Always Love You”.

Appearing on the BBC’s Today programme on Friday 17 May, Star said it was “amazing” how geneology “helps unite us”. She said discovering a new side to their family was “extraordinary”.

She pointed out that many Welsh people immigrated to Appalacia in the midwest and north America, bringing with them their music and culture.

“I think for a lot of music, but especially music that comes from the Appalacians or in east Tennessee because that’s where those people settled, and she’s gonna snatch my hair off if I tell you anything else,” she joked of her aunt.

The Independent has contacted Parton’s representative for comment.

Dolly Parton will reportedly explore her Welsh heritage in a documentary next year (Getty Images)

This is not the first time Parton has been linked to Wales; she reportedly told fans at a concert in Cardiff in 2008 that she had Welsh ancestry.

“Some of my mother’s people, the Owens, are from there (Wales),” Parton later told Wales Online.

“I’ve been there about three times and it always feels good because it feels like family.“

Asked what she loves about Welsh music, Star, who is booked to perform at Glastonbury Festival this summer, said she admired the skill of “being able to hear a story told to you, and then to relay that story to others in a way that’s memorable, so that story lives on forever”.

She added: “That’s kind of the same thing that Appalacian music is, and a lot of country music has roots there, but especially Dolly’s music.”

Dolly Parton’s niece says fans will be ‘so happy’ with what she explores in the programme (Getty Images for NARAS)

Star said she is currently trying to learn Welsh on Duolingo, and is able to say various greetings along with “thank you”.

Questioned as to whether Parton might perform in Wales anytime soon, Star responded: “I’m gonna have to talk to her about that, aren’t I? We’re gonna have to see what happens.”

She continued: “I’m really excited about all the stuff coming up in the future, you guys are gonna be so happy with what she’s gonna talk about and all the things we’re gonna learn together… she’s worked so hard on this.”

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