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Billy Ray Cyrus defends daughter on 'Piers Morgan': 'She's just Miley'

Entertainment Tonight

After riding a wrecking ball naked, twerking on Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards and making out with a sledge hammer (yes, we had to bring that up again), Billy Ray Cyrus told Piers Morgan on Thursday night's CNN show that Miley Cyrus is still his little girl.

Bing: Miley's 'Wrecking Ball' hits number one

"I'm her daddy. I come from that school of -- as a singer-songwriter, as a musician -- that it starts with a song. And it's that magic moment when a song finds the right artist, the right singer, and it becomes a synchronicity of that moment in time," the 52-year-old "Achy Breaky Heart" singer explained. "Miley harnessed that into something very special. She's just Miley. She's an artist, she's real."

As for her highly sexual, tongue-wagging new persona, he says, "I think that's what's happened over the years; Miley has been reinventing her sound. She's evolving as an artist herself. I think that it's all of what everyone is calling controversy now. That's still my Miley."

Billy Ray also has an interesting reaction to the 20-year-old singer's VMA performance, telling Piers, "Miley again, you know, I think she could've went out and sang the song in a flannel shirt and a pair of jeans, and it would have still been just as strong. Would we have been here talking about it? No way."

More: Miley Cyrus: 'I was, like, born to become who I am, like, right now'

Continuing to defend his daughter, Billy Ray adds that he thinks this change of character is what she needed to break out of the mold of being a Disney star. "Miley's smart enough to know that to come out of the shadows of Hannah Montana, it really takes something extremely drastic, which, when you go to that level, it creates passion, and passion is either love or hate. But there's no middle of the road for passion,"

He continues, "She has risen to a whole new level. I thought I had seen it all -- until these last couple of weeks."

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