The Nashville breakout calls the country legend "a great light"

By Jeff Nelson
October 30, 2017 07:00 PM
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Cam is on fire!

On Friday, the “Burning House” singer returned with her new single “Diane.” The ABBA-meets-Fleetwood Mac jam serves as a response to Dolly Parton‘s 1973 please-don’t-take-my-man classic “Jolene.”

“Diane” is the first single off Cam’s forthcoming sophomore LP, due in 2018, and follows the success of her 2015 debut Untamed, which generated her Grammy-nominated hit “Burning House.”

The happily married Cam, 32, spoke to PEOPLE exclusively about the track, cheating — and how Parton has inspired her career.

“Diane” is an answer to “Jolene.” You know Dolly personally. Has she heard the song yet?

Not yet. I’m writing out a letter that I really want to explain it to her and show it to her. I’m really nervous to show her! I want to preface it and give her a chance to absorb it and see what she thinks.

Credit: David Becker/Getty Images for ACM; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Why are you nervous?

I just respect her so much. She’s such an amazing songwriter, and for me, what “Jolene” did is: You hear this woman appealing to the humanity of another woman. You don’t hear her trash-talking her, you don’t hear her cutting her down — you hear her saying, “To be honest, I know you can take him, and please don’t. You will find plenty of men, and this is the one for me,” instead of just getting angry. I think the tone of that is what I really wanted “Diane” to be, as well, in the sense of: “I really wish it hadn’t happened this way. I didn’t know he was married. You deserve to know. And you deserve to have an apology and not in a malicious, ‘I want you to suffer’ kind of way — but everyone deserves the truth.'”

And women need to step up and do that for one another when they’re in that situation. There’s a lot of integrity in that. So it makes me nervous because I hope someone who’s as talented as she is, and has the integrity she does, can appreciate that.

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How has Dolly influenced you?

I would say the fact that she’s funny is a big reason that I feel so excited to be in this genre. Women are expected to be this sort of sex symbol and mysterious and all those kinds of things, up on a pedestal — and even though she is more talented than anyone, she’s so relatable. She just tells jokes onstage! When I get onstage, I do plenty of jokes and talk. She talks all the time during her shows.

And the fact that she writes her songs and takes her songwriting seriously and the business side of it — what she’s done and how she valued herself and her songs and knew what she deserved financially for the work she was putting in. A lot of artists miss in general, but I think that’s something that a lot of women miss — to make sure that I can take care of myself. Those are all things that she’s inspired in me. She’s been a great light.

52nd Academy Of Country Music Awards - Arrivals
Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Why was it important to share the story in this song?

The truth is, there are so many people that have gone through this that I know. There’s such a weird stigma that you can’t talk about this because it either reflects badly on you or you feel vulnerable, you’re supposed to suffer in silence or if you see it from the outside, you’re not supposed to tell. I wrote it because this is the apology and the forthrightness that I think people deserve from each other.

For people that have gone through it, they feel like they are not only having to deal with the heartbreak of what they’re going to, but they feel alone. So it’s healing to hear this story — when you get to hear this story in someone else’s words, you kind of have a moment of, like, “Oh, this happens all the time.” Not all of it is relieved, but the part where you’re alone starts to get lifted up a little bit.

You sing from the perspective of the other woman on “Diane” — but you yourself are happily married. How did your own love story inform your new album?

He [husband Adam Weaver] is my very honest critic. If I show him mixes of things, he’ll tell me if it’s good or if it’s bad [laughs]. And also, one of the songs on the album was inspired by him. He definitely had a say — well, not a say, but an influence. It’s kind of hard when you’re trying to write about your life — it would be hard to not have him in there!

Cam’s “Diane” is out now. The singer kicks off her Best Coast Tour Nov. 28.