Parton stars as Thyola Rayfield, the lead singer of an up-and-coming band called Big T and the Texas Wheelers. The band travels around to different clubs and bars in Texas, performing independently.
Thyola cathes the attention of Justice Parker (Busey), who offers to fund recordings for the band and take up management. Thyola begins falling in love with Justice, and the two move in together. Shortly after their relationship takes off, Thyola discovers a hidden dark side of Justice: a violent alcoholic. Caught up in the tumultuous relationship, Thyola becomes torn between the man she loves and the need to walk away. As the band continues to rise, culminating with an offer for a record deal with a major record label, Thyola's life spins out of control. Justice continues drinking, despite anger toward himself for abusing Thyola. Justice's downward spiral is escalated by continuous verbal and emotional abuse from his long-time drunk father, Harlan (Dennis Letts), who claims to hate Justice and says he wishes Justice were never born.
Thyola's fellow band member and close friend Ben Rayson (Benson) finds out about the abuse and leaves the band in an effort to send a wake-up call to Thyola and encourage her to leave Justice. Thyola does in fact decide to leave Justice and stays with Ben and his friends despite Justice's pleas to come back home.
In an effort to negotiate financial matters and come to an agreement, Thyola agrees to meet Justice. Ben finds a battered and bloody Thyola in a warehouse bathroom. Shortly after, Justice is alone, leaving his office, when he is shot and killed by an unknown assailant. Thyola finds out that Ben has been arrested for Justice's murder because he was seen near the scene and his prints were on the murder weapon (which was Justice's own gun that Ben had handled earlier in the office). Thyola feels bad that Ben should take the blame for Justice's murder, so she agrees to meet with the police and legal counsel, where she confesses to Justice's murder. In an effort to see who is telling the truth, officials ask Ben and Thyola if they know where Justice was shot. Ben does not reply, but Thyola correctly confesses, "right between the eyes."
Ben is released and Thyola is sent to prison. Some time later, Harlan Parker is in the hospital, dying of cirrhosis. He confesses to killing Justice so that an innocent Thyola does not have to sit in prison. A narrating Thyola confesses that she didn't really know where Justice was shot, but that it was a lucky (or not-so-lucky) guess she made in an attempt to keep Ben (whom she thought killed Justice) out of prison. After Harlan's confession, Thyola is released from prison and reunites with her band.