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Country music singer-songwriter, producer, actress, businesswoman, philanthropist, and author. The most honored female country performer of all time.
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born in Pittman Center, TN, the fourth of 12 children. The family had struggled to make ends, as reflected in Parton’s early songs, such as “Coat of Many Colors.” From an early age, music had a significant role in her life, at 6 she began to perform at her church, and by the age of 7 years old, she learned to play the guitar. In the next few years, she sang on local radio and television programs, and at 13, she recorded her first single.
A day after her high school graduation, she moved to Nashville. After a year of working mainly as a songwriter, she signed a contract with Monument Records. The label defined her as a “bubblegum pop” singer and rejected her tendency to country music. That changed after she composed and recorded “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” with Bill Phillips, and the song reached #6 on the country chart of 1966. Afterward, she recorded her first country song “Dumb Blonde,” which reached #24 on the country chart of the following year.
At 21, Parton was offered by Porter Wagoner a regular spot on his television program “The Porter Wagoner Show,” as well as on his road show. She signed a contract at the same label as Wagoner, and in the next 6 years, the two recorded a streak of top-10 singles. Simultaneously, Parton recorded solo songs, and in 1971 she released her first number-one single, “Joshua.” In 1974, 28 years old Parton parted from Wagoner and launched a solo career, within 6 years she had 8 singles reaching #1 in the country Top 10 chart.
Towards the late 70’s she began to aim her music in a more pop mainstream direction and took an active role in her productions. In 1977, the album “Here You Come Again” became Parton’s first million-seller, reaching both the country chart and the pop chart. As she released one hit after another, her commercial success grew, and when “9 to 5” came out, Parton became one of the few female country singers to have a #1 single on the country charts as well as on the pop charts. Since then, she has established herself as a music icon, recording album after album, cooperating with other artists, and winning multiple awards for her music. To this day, she released more than 60 albums and received more than 100 awards.
In addition to being a successful singer-songwriter, she proved her abilities as an actress; she starred in various TV shows and movies, including her own television variety show “Dolly,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Straight Talk,” and the groundbreaking film “9 to 5,” for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
Parton is also a businesswoman and philanthropist. At age 40, she established the “Dollywood Company,” which operates the theme park “Dollywood” and other entertainment facilities. She is the co-owner of the television production company “Sandollar Productions,” which produced the TV shows “Babes,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and the movies “Father of the Bride” and “Sabrina.” Her foundations take part in charity initiations and support various causes, including cancer facilities, HIV/AIDS-related charities, and the American Red Cross.
“Find out who you are. And do it on purpose”
“Find out who you are. And do it on purpose”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- When she was 13 years old, she met Johnny Cash, and he encouraged her to follow her career instincts.
- She wrote the song “I Will Always Love You” about her professional break from Wagoner.
- She composed both “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in the same songwriting session.
- The world’s first cloned sheep was named after her.
- The podcast “Dolly Parton’s America” is dedicated to Parton’s life and career.
- Since 1966 she is married to Carl Thomas Dean.
- She is Miley Cyrus’s godmother.
- She published six books, and a big part of her support in charitable efforts is in the area of literacy. As part of the Dollywood Foundation, she mails to the children in the program a book every month, from their birth until they enter kindergarten.
- A sculpture of her is located on Sevierville’s courthouse lawn.
More About Her Legacy
* 9 Grammy Awards
* 3 American Music Awards
* 10 Country Music Association Awards
* A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
* Inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame
* Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
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One of Her Landmarks
Parton performs in Pittsburgh 2016. Photo credit - Jack Fordyce @ Shutterstock