Gabby Barrett Recalls Meeting 'Legend' Dolly Parton for First Time: 'A Little Nerve-Wracking!'

The "I Hope" singer performed at the 2022 CMT Music Awards alongside husband Cade Foehner, her "calm in the storm"

Gabby Barrett may have been Dolly Parton's peer when they co-hosted the ACM Awards last month, but Barrett never stopped being in awe of the country legend.

The awards show marked the first time that the "I Hope" singer, 22, met Parton, 76 — and it was an unforgettable moment for Barrett.

On the CMT Awards red carpet Monday night, she told PEOPLE that she crossed paths with Parton at rehearsals the day before the show, which was "a little nerve-wracking" for the American Idol alum.

"I went up to her and was like, 'Hi,'" Barrett recalled. "And she was like, 'Oh, it's you!' And I was like, 'Yeah, it's me!' And I gave her a hug, and I didn't know if I was squeezing her too hard or too loose. You just get in your head when you meet a legend. But she was really nice."

The star says that, despite their friendly interactions, she has kept the "Jolene" singer up on a pedestal.

Gabby Barrett and Dolly Parton
Gabby Barrett and Dolly Parton. Kevin Winter/Getty

"She's still a legend to me right now," Barrett said. "I'll let you know if that changes."

Barrett reminisced before the 2022 CMT Music Awards, where she was nominated for female video of the year and also performed current single "Pick Me Up."

As usual, the singer's husband, Cade Foehner, was by her side onstage, accompanying her on guitar. His presence, she said, is always comforting.

"He's my bestest friend in the world," she said. "I think we work really well together musically. It's wonderful. It's like he's my calm in the storm. There've been many times where I've gotten really nervous … and you just look to that person that feels like home to you, and it just kind of calms all of those nerves. I'm thankful for that, because I don't know how it would go otherwise."

Cade Foehner and Gabby Barrett
Cade Foehner and Gabby Barrett. Kevin Mazur/Getty

Barrett and Foehner, 25, met on season 16 of American Idol in 2018 and married the next year. They welcomed daughter Baylah May in January 2021.

"He's so supportive," she said, "which I love, and I'm thankful for."

Related Articles