“When I was born, my dad had the No. 1 country song,” Miley Cyrus said, referencing her father’s 1992 breakout single, “Achy Breaky Heart,” which came out when he was well into adulthood. “When I see the numbers, I just see the humans behind it enjoying the music, and I just see people in numbers.”
Miley Cyrus then stressed that fame meant more to her dad, considering his upbringing.
“My dad grew up the opposite of me,” she said. “So I think that’s where me and my dad’s relationship to fame and success is wildly different. Him feeling loved by a big audience impacted him emotionally more than it ever could me. When he feels special or important, it’s like healing a childhood wound. And I’ve always been made to feel like a star.”
“It makes me emotional,” Miley Cyrus said before tearing up. “I think that’s the difference.”
Billy Ray Cyrus opened up about his childhood in a 2011 GQ profile. His father, who was in a gospel band, died of mesothelioma after working in a steel mill. The country crooner also said he experienced a lot of shame growing up because he was a child of divorce in Kentucky in the 1960s and felt stigmatized in school when it came out that he had half- and step-siblings.
“There was always that misfit-ness,” he told the magazine.
He had dreamed of becoming a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds, but had a spiritual awakening during a Neil Diamond concert and said God told him to buy a guitar. He struggled for a decade in Nashville and almost gave up music entirely before “Achy Breaky Heart” became a success.
Miley Cyrus expressed admiration for her dad’s talents in her TikTok series while watching an old video in which he’s playing the guitar and singing to her when she was a child.
“I will say that I feel, vocally, my dad was underappreciated,” Miley Cyrus said, crediting her father for teaching her how to use her pipes.
“I do have a lot of great memories singing music with my dad,” she added. “And learning, and absorbing, and I think I can see my wheels turning and watching his voice and the way he’s using the instrument.”