(born January 19, 1946) is an American country singer,
songwriter, composer, author and actress.
was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve
children born to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Owens. Her
siblings are Willadeene Parton (a poet), David Parton,
Denver Parton, Bobby Parton, Stella Parton (a singer),
Cassie Parton, Larry Parton (who died shortly after birth),
Randy Parton (a singer), twins Floyd Parton (a songwriter)
and Freida Parton (a singer), and Rachel Dennison (an
family was, as she described them, "dirt poor" and lived in
a rustic, dilapidated one-room cabin in the
Great Smoky Mountains,
near Locust Ridge. Parton's parents were parishioners in the
Assembly of God Church, a Pentecostal denomination, and
music was a very large part of her church experience. She
once told an interviewer that her grandfather was a
Pentecostal "holy roller" preacher and today, when appearing
in live concerts, she frequently performs spiritual songs. (Parton,
however, professes no denomination, claiming only to be
Christian while adding that she believes that all Earth's
peoples are God's children.)
30, 1966, at the age of 20, she married Carl Dean, who ran
an asphalt-paving business (whom she met upon her first day
in Nashville two years earlier), in Ringgold, Georgia. She
has remained with Dean, who has always shunned publicity and
rarely accompanies Parton to any events.
began performing as a child, singing on local radio
programming radio and television program television in East
Tennessee. At age 12 she was appearing on Knoxville,
Tennessee TV, and at 13, she was recording on a small record
label and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville,
Tennessee. When she graduated from high school in 1964 she
taking many traditional elements of folklore and popular
Parton's initial success came as a songwriter, writing hit
songs for Hank Williams, Jr. and Skeeter Davis. She signed
with Monument Records in late 1965, where she was initially
pitched as a bubblegum pop singer, earning only one national
chart single, "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby," which did not
crack the Billboard Top 100. Additional pop singles also
failed to chart.
label agreed to have Parton sing country music after her
composition "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" as recorded by Bill
Phillips (and with Parton, uncredited, on harmony) went to
No. 6 on the country charts in 1966. Her first country
single, "Dumb Blonde" (one of the few songs during this era
that she recorded but didn't write), reached No. 24 country
1967, followed later the same year with "Something Fishy,"
which went to No. 17. The two songs anchored her first
full-length album, Hello I'm Dolly, that same year.
1967, Parton was asked to join the weekly syndicated country
music TV program hosted by Porter Wagoner, replacing Norma
Jean. She also signed with RCA Victor, Wagoner's label,
during this period, where she would remain for the next two
decades. Wagoner and Parton immediately began a hugely
successful career as a vocal duet in addition to their solo
work and their first single together, a cover of Tom
Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind,"
reached the top ten on the U.S. country charts in late 1967,
and was the first of over a dozen duet singles to chart for
them during the next several years.
is a hugely successful songwriter, having begun by writing
country songs with strong elements of folk music in them
based upon her upbringing in humble mountain surroundings.
Her songs "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" have become
classics in the field, as have a number of others. As a
composer, she is also regarded as one of country music's
most gifted storytellers, with many of her narrative songs
based on persons and events from her childhood. Dolly Parton
has published almost 600 songs with BMI to date and has
earned 24 BMI awards for her material.
stayed with the Wagoner show and continued to record duets
with him for seven years, then made a break to become a solo
artist. In 1974, her song "I Will Always Love You" was
released and went to #1 on the country charts. Around the
same time, Elvis Presley indicated that he wanted to cover
the song. Parton was interested until Presley's manager,
Colonel Tom Parker, told her that she would have to sign
over half of the publishing rights if Elvis recorded the
song (as was the standard procedure for songs Elvis
recorded). Parton refused and that decision is credited with
helping make her many millions of dollars in royalties from
the song over the years.
originally being typecast in many circles as a "Country and
Western" singer, Parton later had even greater commercial
success as a pop singer and actress. Her 1977 album "Here
You Come Again" was her first million-seller, and the title
track became her first top-ten single on the pop charts;
many of her subsequent singles charted on both pop and
country charts simultaneously. Her albums during this period
were developed specifically for pop/crossover success.
1987, along with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, she
released the decade-in-the-making Trio album to critical
acclaim (a second collaboration, "Trio II", would be
released in 1999). In 1993, she teamed up with fellow
country music queens Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette for a
similar project, the Honky Tonk Angels album.
20 years with RCA, Parton signed with Columbia Records in
1987, where her recording career continued to prosper, but
by the mid 1990s, Parton, along with many other performers
of her generation, found that her new music was not welcome
on country radio playlists. She recorded a series of
critically acclaimed bluegrass albums, beginning with "The
Grass is Blue" (1999) and "Little Sparrow" (2001), both of
which won Grammy Awards. Her 2002 album "Halos
and Horns" included a bluegrass version of the Led
Zeppelin classic Stairway to Heaven. In 2005, Parton
released Those Were The Days, her interpretation of
hits from the folk-rock era of the late 1960s through early
1970s. The CD featured such classics as John Lennon's
"Imagine," Cat Stevens' "Where Do The Children Play," Tommy
James' "Crimson & Clover," and the folk classic "Where Have
All The Flowers Gone" and the title track.
the mid-1970s, Parton had her eyes set on expanding her
audience base. The first step towards meeting this goal was
her attempt a variety show, Dolly. Even though it had
high ratings, the show lasted merely one season, with Parton
asking out of her contract due to the stress it was causing
her vocal cords.(In 1987 she tried a second TV variety show,
also titled Dolly, which lasted only one season.)
1980, Jane Fonda decided Parton was a perfect candidate for
her upcoming film, 9 to 5. She was looking for a
brassy Southern woman for a supporting role and felt the
singer was perfect. Parton received acclaim for her
performance, receiving Golden Globe nominations for Best
Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy and New Star of the
Year in a Motion Picture - Female. She also scored one of
the biggest hits of her career with the title song, which
she wrote; it earned her an Academy Award nomination for
Best Original Song. She received a Golden Globe nomination
for Best Original Song - Motion Picture. The song won two
Grammy Awards, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and
Best Country Song. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100
and was also #78 on American Film Institute's 100 years, 100
songs. She was also named the Top Female Box Office Star
title by Motion Picture Herald
in both 1981 and 1982.
Parton's other films include The Best Little Whorehouse
in Texas (1982), for which she received another Golden
Globe nomination, and Steel Magnolias. Parton's last
lead role in a theatrical film was in 1992's Straight
Talk, opposite James Woods. She played the plainspoken
host of a radio program that has people phoning-in with
problems. The film, while not a blockbuster, did respectably
well upon its release. She later played an overprotective
mother in Frank McKlusky, C.I.
with Dave Sheridan, Cameron Richardson, and Randy Quaid.
has also done voice work for animation, playing herself in
the TV series Alvin & the Chipmunks (episode:
Urban Chipmunk) (1987) and her voice role as Katrina
Eloise "Murph" Murphy in The Magic School Bus
(episode: The Family Holiday Special) (1994). She has
appeared on many non-musical television shows, usually in
cameo roles as herself.
Movies, theatre, and music
from 9 to 5, Parton's music has been featured
prominently in other films. In 1982, she recorded a second
version of "I Will Always Love You" for The Best Little
Whorehouse in Texas; the second version proved to be
another #1 country hit and also managed to reach the pop
charts, going to #53 in the United States.
1992, "I Will Always Love You" was performed by Whitney
Houston on The Bodyguard soundtrack.
version became the best-selling hit ever written and
performed by a female vocalist, with worldwide sales of over
12 million copies. As Parton owned the song, she reaped the
benefits of the royalties from
version. The song was also covered by music legend Kenny
Rogers on his 1997 album "Always and Forever," which sold
over 4 million copies worldwide, as well as by Leann Rimes.
has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best
Original Song, for "9 to 5" in 1980, and for "Travelin'
Thru" from Transamerica, filmed in 2005. She was
considered the front-runner in the 2005 Oscar song category,
but the song lost to "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from
Hustle and Flow.
Had Parton's song won, she would have become the first
country artist to win an Oscar. (Although other country
songs have won the Best Song category in the past, all
previous winners had actually been written by non-country
artists, most often classical or pop composers.) "Travelin'
Thru" did win as Best Original Song award at the 2005
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards. The song was also
nominated, though it did not win, for both Best Original
Song by the Foreign Press' for the Golden Globes as well as
Best Song by the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
Parton performance, "The Day I Fall In Love," a duet with
James Ingram from the film "Beethoven's Second," was
nominated for an Oscar in 1994 and was performed live by the
duo on the awards telecast. Oscar nominations, however, are
for the songwriter, not performer, and it did not win.
According to a broadcast of the public radio programme
Studio 360 from 10-29-05, as of October 2005 Parton was in
the midst of composing the songs for a planned Broadway
musical adaptation of the film 9 to 5.
2005, Parton joined with George Jones on the song the "The
Blues Man". They also made a video for the song. This is
the very first time Parton and Jones came together and did a
invested much of her earnings into business ventures in her
native East Tennessee, notably Pigeon Forge, which includes
a theme park named Dollywood and a dinner show called
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. The area is a thriving
tourist attraction, drawing visitors from large parts of the
Southeastern and Midwestern United States. This region of
the U.S., like most areas of Appalachia, has suffered
economically for decades; Parton's business investment has
revitalized the area.
also owns Sandollar Productions,
a film and television production company, which produced the
Fox TV Show Babes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
and the features Father of the Bride I & II,
Straight Talk, Sabrina, and Academy Award-winning
(for Best Documentary) Common Threads: Stories from the
Quilt, among other shows.
Sanddollar is co-owned by
Sandy Gallin, Parton's former manager.
toured extensively from the late 1960s until the early
1990s. Since the early 1990s, Parton's concert appearances
were primarily limited to one weekend a year at her
Dollywood theme park benefiting her
Dollywood Foundation. After a decade long absence
from touring, Parton decided to hit the road in 2002 with an
18-city, intimate club tour to promote the "Halos & Horns"
CD. The House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. produced show
sold out all of its U.S. and European dates (her first in
two decades). In 2004, she returned to mid-sized stadium
venues in 36 cities in the US and Canada with her "Hello I'm
Dolly" tour, a glitzier, more elaborate stage show than two
years earlier. With nearly 140,000 tickets sold, the "Hello
I'm Dolly" tour was the tenth-biggest country tour of the
year and grossed more than $6 million. In late 2005 Parton
completed a 40-city tour with "The Vinatage Tour" promoting
her new album, Those Were The Days.
is the most-honored female country performer of all time.
She holds 25 U.S. gold, platinum and multi-platinum honors
from the RIAA. She has seen 25 songs reach No. 1 on the
Billboard country charts, a record for a female artist. She
has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any
artist, and 110 career charted singles over the past 40
years. All inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits
collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage
during Parton's career have reportedly reached 100 million
records around the world.
received seven Grammy Awards and a total of 42 Grammy
nominations. In the American Music Awards, she has taken
home the AMA trophy three times but seen 18 nominations. At
the Country Music Association, she has received 10 awards
and 42 nominations. At the Academy of Country Music, she has
been given seven awards and 39 nominations. She is one of
only five solo female artists (others include Reba McEntire,
Barbara Mandrell, Shania Twain, and Loretta Lynn), to win
the Country Music Association's highest honor, "Entertainer
Of The Year".
a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6712
Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, awarded in 1984; a star on
the Nashville Star Walk for Grammy winners; and a bronze
sculpture on the courthouse lawn in Sevierville, Tennessee.
inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1969. In 1986, she was
named one of Ms. Magazine's Women of the Year. She
was given an honorary doctorate from Carson-Newman College
saw Parton's induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall
of Fame. In 1999, Parton received country music's highest
honor, induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. This
was followed by induction into the National Academy of
Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001.
honored in 2003 with a tribute album called Just Because
I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. The artists who
recorded versions of Parton's songs included Melissa
Etheridge ("I Will Always Love You"), Alison Krauss ("9 to
5"), Shania Twain ("Coat of Many Colors"), Me'Shell
NdegéOcello ("Two Doors Down"), Norah Jones ("The Grass is
Blue"), and Sinéad O'Connor ("Dagger Through the Heart");
Parton herself contributed a rerecording of the title song,
originally the title song for her first RCA album in 1968.
was awarded the Living Legend medal by the U.S. Library of
Congress on April 14, 2004, for her contributions to the
cultural heritage of the United States. This was followed in
2005 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor
given by the U.S. government for excellence in the arts.
efforts to preserve the bald eagle through the American
Eagle Foundation's sanctuary at Dollywood earned her the
Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in
2003. And her national literacy program, Dolly Parton's
Imagination Library, has resulted in her receiving the
Association of American Publishers' AAP Honors in 2000, Good
Housekeeping's Seal of Approval in 2001 (the first time the
seal had been given to a person), the American Association
of School Administrators' Galaxy Award in 2002, the Chasing
Rainbows Award from the National State Teachers of the Year
in 2002, and the Child and Family Advocacy Award from the
Parents As Teachers National Center in 2003. The program
distributes more than 2.5 million free books to children
annually across more than 40 states.
December 3, 2006 Dolly Parton will be honored by the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts for her lifetime of
contributions to the arts. The other 2006 honorees are Zubin
Mehta, Steven Spielberg, Smokey Robinson and Andrew Lloyd
like Willie Nelson and the late Johnny Cash, is one of the
few country stars to draw a diverse fanbase from all walks
of life. Parton's fans often identify with her, and she
identifies with them. She has said in interviews that she is
inspired by outcasts from society (such as prostitutes,
whose long fingernails and big blonde wigs inspire her
on-stage appeance). She is an icon in the gay community, and
is often portrayed by drag queens. She has stated that if
she were a man, she would be a drag queen. One of her more
famous quotes: "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap".
Throughout her career, Parton has been world renowned for
her large breasts. She has often poked fun at herself with
quips such as "I would have burned my bra in the 60s, but it
would have taken the fire department three days to put it
out," or "The reason I have a small waist and small feet is
that nothing grows well in the shade." In 1989 when she
guest-hosted Saturday Night Live, she participated in
a self-deprecating sketch that parodied Sci-Fi exploitation
films: an alien race of excessively large-breastedwomen
teased her about the fact that her breasts were
comparatively small, "merely the size of melons." In 1994,
she told Vogue magazine that her measurements were
40-20-36. More recently, as a guest on The O'Reilly
Factor she told Bill O'Reilly, "I don't know if they [my
breasts] are supporting me or I'm supporting them." Dolly
the sheep was named for Parton because it was cloned from
reportedly turned down several offers to pose for Playboy
magazine and similar publications; however, she jokes that
she told Playboy she would pose naked on her 100th
birthday. Russ Meyer wanted to make movies about her
breasts. She admitted to having breast implants in 2002. She
says she didn't get them until she lost a great deal of
weight in the mid-1980s, because as a result of the weight
loss she had lost a great deal of her famous bust.
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