By People Staff
November 26, 2001 12:00 PM

“You could probably attribute 90 percent of all guitars bought in the United States to the hope that playing one will attract girls,” says Brad Paisley. Six-string in hand at February’s Grammys, the 29-year-old singer caught the attention of one woman in particular. Dolly Parton, 55, accompanied him onstage to present the Best Country Album award and unabashedly declared before the show’s nearly 27 million viewers: “I’m old enough to be that boy’s…lover!”

Clearly the guitar, which the 5’9″ Paisley has been playing since age 8 when his grandfather gave him a secondhand one, isn’t his only secret weapon. Also appealing is his ” ‘howdy, ma’am,’ humble, shy thing,” says country colleague Sara Evans. “He’s a real gentleman.”And an old-fashioned one at that. The never-married Paisley, known for his hit song “He Didn’t Have to Be,” lives alone in the suburbs of Nashville, where his favorite Saturday night hangout is the defiantly unhip Grand Ole Opry. “I think they last rushed the stage,” he says, “when Hank Williams made his debut in ’49.”