Billy Ray Cyrus is engaged to Firerose and shares details of how they met – more than a decade ago when he befriended her outside of the Hannah Montana sound image.
The ‘Old Town Road’ singer, 61, has finally confirmed People magazine on Wednesday that he and the Australian singer/songwriter, 34, got engaged in August – four months after his wife of 28 years, Tish Cyrus, filed for divorce. Billy Ray and Firerose released a new song, “Time,” on Wednesday, but perhaps more interesting than their musical collaboration is that they came together in the first place.
He told the outlet that 12 years ago in 2010 during the making Hannah Montana with his superstar daughter Miley Cyrus, he took his dog for a walk on the grounds of Tribune Studios (now: Sunset Bronson Studios) in Hollywood.
“I loved doing that show,” he recalls. “There are some old fir trees on the property that look like Tennessee. Tex and I went there in the middle of the day and he took care of his business and we stretched and I thought how much I missed Tennessee. On that particular day came Firerose out the front door. There was almost a moment of, I don’t know, recognition. I was like, ‘This girl is a star.'”
Firerose, then 22, stopped by to say hello to the dog and Billy Ray, whom she recognized.
“She told me she auditioned and I said, ‘Well, I’m sure you got the job,'” he recalled. However, Firerose, who doesn’t remember what the audition was for, didn’t. Billy Ray offered to take her in and introduce her to producers.
“I just thought, well, the casting agents, the producers, the writers, they’re all on the floor of where we do Hannah Montana. And I actually said to her, ‘Never take this offer from a strange man, but in this case Tex will testify that you are perfectly safe,'” said Billy Ray, who was 49 at the time. “I’m going to introduce you to a producer and you can kind of feel at home and watch us rehearse and you know, maybe it could lead to a role or just another contact at Disney.” And so me and she and Tex went back to the studio and I think she met a lot of the cast and met the producers and writers. And in some ways, well, in a lot of ways we became friends.”
Billy Ray, who married Tish in 1993, said they kept in touch. Firerose — her legal name (although reportedly born Johanna Rosie Hodges) — said, “Our friendship was so solid over the years.”
In Tish’s divorce filing, she said she and the “Achy Breaky Heart” singer lived separately for the last two years of their marriage. Billy Ray told People that when the pandemic started, he and Firerose became songwriting partners.
“We started sharing music and it just evolved,” he said. Firerose said, “Billy confided in me a lot of what was going on in his life”, referring to the end of his marriage. “I was just the best friend I could be, supporting him.”
Billy Ray said he asked Firerose, “who had been such a light of positivity, such a best friend,” if they could be more than friends. “It’s just evolved more into, like musical soulmates, into soulmates, happy, pure love that I didn’t know could exist.” In early summer, Firerose moved to his ranch in Franklin, Tenn., and he proposed in August — initially without an engagement ring.
“Billy looked at me and said, ‘Will you, will you marry me?'” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘Of course I do. I love you.’ She later chose a diamond and designed her own ring. Billy Ray, who was married before Tish, said their love is “forever”.
Billy Ray also spoke of estrangement rumors with his children – in addition to Miley, 29, he is the father of Brandi, 35, Trace, 33, Braison, 28, and Noah, 22, with Tish and Christopher Cody, 30, with ex-girlfriend Kristin Lucky.
“Everyone knew that relationship was over a long time ago,” Billy Ray, who became a grandfather last year, said of his marriage to Tish, which had almost ended twice before. “Everyone is turning the page. It’s been a lot, but everyone knew it was time for a change.”
Billy Ray and Firerose appeared together on Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2021 to promote their song “New Day” and she talked about meeting him ten years earlier.
“Billy Ray has been a phenomenal supporter of my music ever since,” she told Ryan Seacrest at the time.