Elle King addresses 'hammered' Dolly Parton tribute performance at the Opry. 'I was like a shell of myself,' she says

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Nearly four months after delivering a drunken performance on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry stage, country singer Elle King is addressing the controversy that prompted an apology from the legendary venue.

King was recently a guest on the, "Dear Chelsea" podcast with comedian and author Chelsea Handler to discuss the country music genre, relationships, and what happened the night of Jan. 19. Up until now, King has spoken little about her Dolly Parton tribute performance at the Opry.

Back in February, the Queen of Country herself spoke about the performance, saying that King was a great artist and girl who had been going through hard things.

"She just had a little too much to drink, so let’s just forgive that and forget it and move on, ‘cause she felt worse than anyone ever could,” Parton said in an interview with "Extra."

Here's what King said during her podcast appearance.

Elle King: 'I was like a shell of myself'

Elle King performs on the Mane Stage during Stagecoach in Indio, Calif., on Friday, April 26, 2024.
Elle King performs on the Mane Stage during Stagecoach in Indio, Calif., on Friday, April 26, 2024.

King said that the day of her performance, she had been going through something very heavy and traumatic in her life and that day was very significant dealing with what she had been going through.

"I suffer from like severe PTSD. That day, I hadn't eaten, I hadn't slept in days and I was really overwhelmed," she said. "I was like a shell of myself."

King said that due to the headliner backing out just a few hours prior, she had been asked to sing, "Jolene."

"Great! I know that song!" exclaimed King. "First show, [expletive] perfect! I take one shot too many and I'm just not there in my body. I'm not there, I don't remember it."

King said what she did remember, was being backstage in her dressing room, sobbing on the floor and being mortified over what she had done. King said she hand wrote an apology letter to both the Grand Ole Opry and Parton. Parton called her a few days later she said.

"She's just like literally proof that angels exist. She just gave me really kind words and told me 'Well, Dolly's not mad at you why should the world be?' She made me laugh, and like that's the kindness from women," she said. "That's the stuff that I've received that I'll never forget, ever."

"I wanted to [expletive] die," she added.

Elle King addresses hurtful backlash

King said that following her performance, she felt the need to remove herself from the population as her situation wasn't getting any better. King said she received messages telling her to surrender her child, that she was an unfit mother and that she should "off" herself. She wondered if things would have been different had she been a man, she said.

"Dolly even said it, no one is gonna be harder on me than me," she said. "I was very, very hard on myself and I'm mortified."

King said the performance was her hitting a massive brick wall and she's made changes in her life since then that have allowed her to become a stronger person. Although she's not grateful for what happened, she has the ability to find a silver lining in anything, she said.

King said she used that experience as a learning tool and now she avoids drinking before singing on stage. She said she's proud to call them the best shows she's ever played.

"For all the people who are asking for an apology from me, 'Hey, if you were there that night, and I didn't get a chance to say I'm sorry to you, I apologize.'"

Diana Leyva covers trending news and service journalism for The Tennessean. Contact her at Dleyva@gannett.com or follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, at @_leyvadiana

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Elle King reveals what led to drunken Dolly Parton tribute at the Opry