Music directors sometimes say that Dolly Parton’s music falls into the archival category called “evergreen”. Basically, that means the product or message is appropriate nearly anywhere and anytime. Her music certainly seems ageless. Ever since her first commercial release, a duet with Porter Wagoner, Parton has enjoyed continued success.
I was a reluctant convert to Parton and her music. My musical tastes had run the gamut from The Beatles to hard rock to jazz to classical, but no way did I care for country music. That aversion faded away once my broadcasting career developed. One of my early favorite country entertainers was Dolly Parton. As a music director, I learned that it’s wise to keep a Dolly Parton song somewhere “in rotation”. Parton’s oldies are fixtures in country radio archives.
My affinity for Dolly Parton was not misguided. It turns out that there is a lot to like about this talented woman. She cannot be pigeonholed into any particular category. Parton is a singer-songwriter, musician, producer, author, actress, and business executive. As a performer she has been successful in several genres: gospel, bluegrass, country, crossover popular country, and top-ten pop. She has collaborated with Porter Wagoner, Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris.
I’d have to write a book in order to cover all of her successful efforts. She not only personally entertains crowds of people, but is involved in film and television interests and owns the world famous Dollywood Company. All together, she is said to have a net worth of some $500,000,000. She is a true rags to riches success story.
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946 in rural Sevier County, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children. Parton says her dad paid the doctor, who helped deliver her, with a bag of oatmeal. She describes her early family life as being dirt poor.
She has always been bubbly and outgoing. Parton began singing and playing in public on local radio and teevee shows in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her very first record was a cover version of “Puppy Love” for the independent label “Goldband Records”. Before she graduated from high school, Parton appeared at the Grand Ole Opry where she met Johnny Cash. He advised Parton to follow her instincts about the direction of her career. Parton’s many biographies can fill you in about the details of her subsequent popularity, numerous awards, accolades, and other successes.
One of the more surprising things about Dolly Parton is that she is a “diva” among much of the LGBT community. It seems quite ironic because Dollywood is a favorite venue for church groups and gay folks.
In a Billboard magazine interview, Parton stated, “[Dollywood is] a place for entertainment, a place for all families, period. It’s for all that. But as far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.” Parton says that childhood hardships helped her learn that to be happy, she needs to feel her inborn compassion for others.
Parton commented more on her LGBT fans, “They know that I completely love and accept them, as I do all people,” she said. “I’ve struggled enough in my life to be appreciated and understood. I’ve had to go against all kinds of people through the years just to be myself. I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love. I don’t think we should be judgmental. Lord, I’ve got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on somebody else.”
What more can I say about Dolly Parton that she hasn’t said about herself through her actions and her “evergreen” popularity?