Dolly Parton’s Sister Stella Calls Out Country Music ‘Hypocrites’ Over #MeToo
Country singer Stella Parton is once again calling out the country music industry in Nashville, taking it to task for what she says is a hypocritical position for failing to follow up on allegations of widespread sexual harassment and assault in the country music industry.
"It's a good ol' boys town and it's always been a good ol' boys town," the singer — whose older sister is Dolly Parton — tells Fox News. "They hide behind their religion, all of them, a bunch of Southern Baptist hypocrites."
Parton's remarks come four months after high-powered country music publicist Kirt Webster was brought down by allegations about what former employees represent as a toxic culture at Webster PR, which included Parton, Kid Rock, Kenny Rogers, Justin Moore, Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams, Jr. and many more top country stars on its client roster. Country singer Austin Rick alleged he experienced repeated sexual harassment and assault during the time that Webster served as his publicist from 2007-2008, and two dozen former employees and associates have come forward to share what they say was a well-known culture of predatory behavior, harassment, assault and fear under Webster's reign, forcing him to resign.
These Artists Left Webster PR Amid Allegations
In January, an in-depth report from Rolling Stone Country blew the lid off decades' worth of allegations about the culture of sexual harassment and fear that women say they have experienced in country music over the years, but despite a firestorm of media attention and debate, there have been few efforts to publicly address the problem from within the industry. Few artists and fewer industry leaders have been willing to even address the subject on record, and Parton says it's time for that to stop.
"[These types of allegations] need to be talked about and people need to stop being silent on this issue,” she says, adding that she has spoken to her sister about the allegations against Webster. She says Dolly "does not condone" Webster's alleged behavior, but has "always been very selective about talking about stuff like that."
"I don't know why she can't speak out, but I will," she states.
In a new letter to the Nashville Scene, Rick also calls out the silence that he says has so far prevented the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements from taking root in Nashville even after Webster's fall.
"I’m pissed off — both at what happened to me and at the shameful industry response to it," he writes. "A few white roses and a song or two — while probably 100 percent well-intentioned — aren’t going to cut it."
"Everything stems from the top, and by that I mean Music Row — label heads, publishing execs, CMA and ACM directors and board members. These women and men need to step up and start speaking explicitly about this issue. Until this occurs, there’s no opening for long-term culture change," Rick adds.
He calls specific attention to statements from Kid Rock and Dolly Parton, two of the only artists to speak publicly on the matter. On Nov. 2, Parton tweeted, "I've worked with Kirt Webster for many years and he has done a wonderful job. I am hoping that the accusations are not true."
Former employees have accused Webster of trading access to Parton meet and greets for sexual favors over the years, and Rick says her response "makes me sad. For all the good she’s done during her career, it’s ironic to me that she draws her morality line at sexual abuse," he laments. "Apparently that’s not important enough for Dolly to want to get to the bottom of. The only comment she’s given is to say that she hopes I’m a liar. She hopes that myself and Kirt’s at least 24 other victims are all conspiring to peddle terrible falsehoods — all so that she doesn’t have to think any differently about her 'friend' — who has been maliciously exploiting her all along to get his twisted jollies off."
Dolly Parton has made no further comment on the matter.
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