Cyrus was born on November 23, 1992, in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, to Letitia Jean “Tish” (Finley) Cyrus and country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. She grew up on a 500-acre (200 ha) farm in Franklin. Her birth name, Destiny Hope, was derived from her parents’ belief that she would accomplish great things, and she was given the nickname “Smiley”, later shortened to “Miley”, because she often smiled as an infant. She officially changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008; her middle name honors her paternal grandfather, Democratic politician Ronald Ray Cyrus, to whom she remained close until his death in 2006. Against the advice of her father’s record company, Cyrus’s parents secretly married a year after her birth, on December 28, 1993. They had two more children together, son Braison and daughter Noah. Cyrus has elder siblings, Traceand Brandi, and an elder paternal half-brother named Christopher. Christopher grew up with his mother Kristin Luckey in South Carolina. Four of her siblings also eventually entered the entertainment business; Trace as a vocalist and guitarist for the electronic pop band Metro Station, Noah as an actress, Braison as a fashion model, and Brandi as a journalist. Cyrus’s godmother is entertainer Dolly Parton.
Cyrus attended Heritage Elementary School. She was raised Christian and was baptized in a Southern Baptist church prior to moving to Hollywood in 2005. She attended church regularly while growing up and wore a purity ring. In 2001, when Cyrus was eight, she and her family moved to Toronto, Canada while her father filmed the television series Doc. After Billy Ray took her to see a 2001 Mirvish production of Mamma Mia! at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Cyrus grabbed his arm and told him, “This is what I want to do, daddy. I want to be an actress.” She began taking singing and acting classes at the Armstrong Acting Studio in Toronto. In her first role, Cyrus played a girl named Kylie on Doc. In 2003, Cyrus was credited under her birth name for her role as “Young Ruthie” in Tim Burton‘s Big Fish. During this time, she also auditioned with Taylor Lautner for the feature film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D and it came down to her and another actress, but Cyrus started doing Hannah Montana instead.
At age 11, Cyrus learned of the casting for what became Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel children’s television series about a schoolgirl with a secret double life as a teen pop star. Cyrus sent in a tape auditioning for its best friend role, but received a call asking her to audition for the lead, Chloe Stewart. After sending in a new tape and flying to Hollywood for further auditions, Cyrus was told that she was too young and too small for the part. However, the series’ producers invited her for further auditions in light of her persistence and her singing and acting abilities. The following year, Cyrus received the lead position, renamed Miley Stewart after herself.Hannah Montana premiered on March 24, 2006, to the largest audience for a Disney Channel program, and quickly ranked among the highest-rated series on basic cable, elevating Cyrus’s wealth and fame. Its instant success helped propel Cyrus to teen idol status.TIME magazine reports that Cyrus’s “phenom[enal]” success is due partially to her talent and partially to “Disney learning to use its vast, multimedia holdings” and market Cyrus and Hannah Montanaappropriately. Cyrus eventually became the first artist to have deals in television, film, consumer products, and music within The Walt Disney Company. As Cyrus’s career flourished, Cyrus’s mother made several important decisions regarding her daughter’s representation. She signed Cyrus with Mitchell Gossett, director of the youth division at Cunningham Escott Slevin Doherty. He is credited with “discovering” her after arranging her auditions for Hannah Montana.
On the recommendation of Cyrus’s godmother, country singer Dolly Parton, Cyrus’s mother signed Cyrus with Jason Morey of Morey Management Group for her music career because of their “good morals” that are “not always the case in this business”. Franke Swertlow of The Hollywood Reporter described Parton’s advice as “the best advice [Tish] could [have gotten] on who should rep her daughter.” Cyrus’s mother also recruited Cyrus’s father’s business manager to manage her daughter’s finances. Cyrus’s mother continued to co-manage and produce many of Cyrus’s career decisions. For her education, Cyrus enrolled at Options for Youth Charter Schools and studied with a private tutor on the set of her television show.
The theme song for Hannah Montana, “The Best of Both Worlds“, was released on March 28, 2006. The track is credited to “Hannah Montana”, the titular pop star that Cyrus portrays. As with other songs credited to Montana, Cyrus typically dressed as the character when performing the song live. It became Cyrus’s first charting song, debuting at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also had success in countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, where it peaked at number 43 and 17,respectively. Dressed as Hannah Montana, Cyrus opened for The Cheetah Girls on twenty dates of their The Party’s Just Begun Tour, beginning on September 15, 2006. On October 24, Walt Disney Records released the first Hannah Montana soundtrack. Of the nine tracks on the soundtrack performed by Cyrus, eight were credited to “Hannah Montana” and one, a duet with her father titled “I Learned from You“, was credited to Cyrus as herself. Cyrus’s first release under her own name had been a cover of James Baskett‘s “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah“, released on April 4, 2006, on the fourth edition of DisneyMania. The soundtrack debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 with first week sales of 281,000 copies. The album continued to top the chart during its second week, and has sold over 3.7 million copies worldwide. During this time period, Cyrus also released the song “Ready, Set, Don’t Go“, a collaboration with her father. It became her first Top 40 hit credited as herself, peaking at number 37 on the BillboardHot 100. It also became her first Top 10 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart, peaking at number 4.
2007–08: Meet Miley Cyrus and Breakout
The second season of Hannah Montana premiered on April 23, 2007, and ran until October 12, 2008. Shortly afterwards, Cyrus signed a four-album deal with Disney-ownedHollywood Records. The double-disc record Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus was released on June 26, 2007; the first disc served as the soundtrack to the second season of Hannah Montana, while the second acted as Cyrus’s debut studio album. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 326,000 copies. It was later certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The project spawned Cyrus’s debut single as herself, “See You Again“, which became her first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was eventually certified Platinum in the country, making it her first single to be RIAA certified. The track also had success in countries such as Australia and Canada, where it also peaked inside of the Top 10. The follow-up single “Start All Over” was released in early 2008; it failed to match the success of its predecessor, debuting and peaking at number 68 on the Hot 100. Numerous songs from the Hannah Montana portion of the album charted worldwide following its release.