Owensboro native and Nashville music entertainer Natasha Neely Henry met her idol Dolly Parton last weekend in the recording studio. Neely has admired Parton since a young age and regularly impersonates her as a performer in several capacities.
Neely recorded a song with Parton’s producer during the summer of 2021 and shared with him how much she respected Parton as an artist, businesswoman, and person. As the producer of Parton’s albums, he said he would find an opportunity for their paths to cross.
Over a year passed, and Neely received a call from the producer explaining that Parton would be in the studio and invited her to stop by. Her response was immediate: “I will be there.”
“She walked in, and I was like, ‘She’s here, she’s really here, this is really happening,’” Neely said. “We got there early in the morning and chatted in an intimate setting for several minutes before she began her studio work. I shared how much of an inspiration she’s been to me and my career.”
Neely spent several years performing at Dollywood. In fact, it was her first performance job outside of Owensboro. But even then, she never met her idol. She described the encounter as a personal studio day — with only her, her husband Kyle, Parton, and the producer.
“When I told her I impersonated her, she said, ‘Well, I bet. You look like family,’” Neely said. “We took pictures, she signed some things, and they continued on. It was the most perfect way to have some personal time with her in a quiet setting. Even today, I’m like, ‘Did that really happen?’”
Neely spent the last 8 years in Nashville performing on the General Jackson Showboat. She regularly performs with several bands in town and spends most weekends touring North America with The Downtown Band, which has performed in Owensboro the last several Fourth of Julys.
She’s also part of an all-female traditional country band and teaches country line dancing at various corporate events. Regarding her Dolly impersonations, she stays busy with corporate outings, school events, and much more.
Neely is also the founder of Natasha Neely Fitness, where she serves several clients as a personal trainer. She’s embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and loves having “full control of her calendar.”
To learn more about Neely and her efforts in the music industry, visit natashaneely.com. For more information about her personal training business, visit natashaneelyfitness.com.
“Within my own business, I’m constantly asking myself, ‘What would Dolly do?’” Neely said. “She’s legit and someone who everyone looks up to. She loves everyone and keeps the peace with everything she does.
“It would be my dream to stand in for her one day,” Neely said. “Maybe at a soundcheck or simply holding her place until she gets there. Or even play her in a movie – that would be my dream role.”