In early October, Dolly Parton celebrated her 50th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member with a star-studded concert at the Opry House in Nashville. Helping the country icon celebrate her major milestone were Lady AntebellumToby Keith and many more, including up-and-comer Candi Carpenter.

To honor Parton, Carpenter opted for a cover of "Little Sparrow," the title track of Parton's 2001 album. Carpenter's performance, along with others from the evening, aired as part of a television special about Parton's Grand Ole Opry anniversary on NBC in November, but now fans can find the performance online.

Written by Parton alone, "Little Sparrow" compares a woman in love to its titular bird — a "precious fragile little thing" that is crushed when her love breaks her heart. "They will vow to always love you / Swear no love but yours will do / Then they'll leave you for another / Break your little heart in two," she laments.

Whereas Parton's original version of the song is a light, but cautionary, bluegrass tune, Carpenter uses her powerful voice to add an extra layer of angst as she brings the song's heartbreak and words of warning to life. Her first lines, sung a cappella, stun right from the start, while a dark guitar line and haunting harmonies elevate her cover.

"Dolly inspired me to become a songwriter, and I look up to her as a role model in business as well as in music," Carpenter reflects. "One of my favorite moments at the Opry happened when Dolly touched up my makeup in her dressing room backstage. She is gracious and kind, and I’m thankful to know my hero and call her a friend."

A singer-songwriter living in Nashville, Carpenter got her start in Music City performing with country star Jack Greene, with whom she toured when she was a teenager. These days, Carpenter is a familiar face on the stage during Song Suffragettes, a weekly, all-women songwriters showcase, and is working on new music with Brandi Carlile, who produced Carpenter's more recent single, "The Astronaut."

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