Dolly Parton is an American country music singer-songwriter, actress, author and businesswoman. She has been described as the most successful female country artist of all time.
Dolly Parton is an American country music singer-songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She has been described as the most successful female country artist of all time.
Dolly Parton is the only country singer who has effectively transitioned from her country origins to worldwide stardom. Her autobiographical song “Coat of Many Colors” depicts her childhood on a dilapidated farm in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, as one of 12 children. She was on Knoxville television at the age of 12, and at the age of 13, she was recording for a tiny label and performing on the Grand Ole Opry. Porter Wagoner heard her 1967 song “Dumb Blonde” (which she isn’t), and he recruited Parton to perform on his television program, where their duet numbers became renowned. Parton’s popularity had eclipsed her boss’s by the time her song “Joshua” hit number one in 1970, and she went solo. She became a country sensation in the mid-’70s, and in the early ’80s, when she smoothed out the raw edges in her music and started singing pop as well as country, she moved over into the pop mainstream. Simultaneously, she started acting in films, the most famous of which being the smash hit 9 to 5. Parton is a country gal and a very talented singer/songwriter at her heart, despite her clever marketing, image manipulation (her stupid blonde stage character is an act), extracurricular excursions into cinema, and flirtations with country-pop sometimes overshadowing her music. “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene,” “Kentucky Gambler,” “I Will Always Love You,” “But You Know I Love You,” and “Tennessee Homesick Blues” are among her classics, and they demonstrate why her contribution to bringing country music to a broad audience — not just in America but around the world — cannot be overstated.
Parton was born and reared in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains National Forest, as the fourth of twelve children. Parton’s family struggled to make ends meet throughout her youth, and she was often mocked for her poverty, but singing helped them to forget about their problems. Her half-Cherokee mother played guitar, and her grandpa, Rev. Jake Owens, was a fiddler and composer, despite the fact that her farmer father did not (his “Singing His Praise” was recorded by Kitty Wells). Her uncle Bill Owens handed her a guitar when she was seven, and she became a regular on WIVK Knoxville’s The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour within three years. Her career grew rapidly over the next two years, and she made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 1959; the following year, she recorded her first song, “Puppy Love,” for Goldband.
Parton joined with Mercury Records when she was 14 years old, but her debut for the company, “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt,” was a flop, and the firm dismissed her immediately. She looked for a new contract for the following five years, and she did record a few songs, which were subsequently released on budget-line albums. She proceeded to attend high school, where she was a member of the marching band’s snare drum section. She went to Nashville after graduation and lived with Bill Owens. After failing to sell their songs in Nashville, both songwriters started singing on demos. Both Parton and Owens were eventually signed to Fred Foster’s publishing company, Combine Music, in early 1965, and Foster later signed her to Monument Records. Parton’s first Monument albums were aimed at a mainstream audience, and her second single, “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby,” came close to charting. Bill Phillips brought two of Parton and Owens’ songs to the top ten in 1966, “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” and “The Company You Keep,” paving the way for Parton’s breakthrough hit “Dumb Blonde.” The song debuted at number 24 in early 1967, and was quickly followed by “Something Fishy” at number 17.
Porter Wagoner, who was searching for a new female vocalist for his syndicated television program, heard the two successful Monument songs and was impressed. On September 5, 1967, Parton accepted the invitation and started performing on the program. Parton was first disliked by Wagoner’s crowd, who shouted for Norma Jean, the singer she had replaced, but with Wagoner’s help, she was quickly embraced. Wagoner also persuaded RCA Records to sign Parton. The company chose to safeguard their investment by releasing her debut song as a duet with Wagoner, since female artists were not very successful in the late 1960s. Early in 1968, “The Last Thing on My Mind” entered the national Top Ten, kicking off a six-year run of almost unbroken Top Ten songs. Parton’s debut solo song, “Just Because I’m a Woman,” was a modest success, reaching number 17 in the summer of 1968. None of her solo attempts, even “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad),” which would later become a classic, were as popular as her duets throughout the rest of the decade. The Country Music Association awarded the pair Vocal Group of the Year in 1968, but Parton’s solo albums were consistently overlooked. Porter had a major financial interest in her future; as of 1969, he was her co-producer and controlled almost half of the publishing firm Owepar. Wagoner and Parton were both upset by her lack of independent success.
Porter used the gimmick of having her perform Jimmie Rodgers’ “Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)” in 1970, and it worked. Her first number one hit, “Joshua,” was followed shortly by this record, which reached number three on the charts. In addition to her duets, she had a series of solo successes over the following two years, including her trademark song “Coat of Many Colors” (number four, 1971). Despite having a string of hit songs, none of them were big hits until “Jolene” hit number one in early 1974. After the film’s premiere, Parton ceased touring with Wagoner, although she continued to appear on television and perform duets with him until 1976.
Parton’s albums became more eclectic and diverse after she left Wagoner, ranging from the ballad “I Will Always Love You” (number one, 1974) and the racy “The Bargain Store” (number one, 1975) to the crossover pop of “Here You Come Again” (number one, 1977) and the disco experiment of “Baby I’m Burning” (number one, 1978). (number 25 pop, 1978). She regularly charted in the national Top Ten from 1974 to 1980, with no less than eight songs reaching number one. In 1976, Parton launched her own syndicated television program, Dolly, and by the following year, she had earned the right to create her own albums, which resulted in a wide range of albums, including 1977’s New Harvest…First Gathering. In addition to her own successes in the late 1970s, numerous musicians recorded her songs, including Rose Maddox and Kitty Wells, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, and her brothers Randy and Stella earned their own recording contracts.
Parton became a true superstar in 1977, when her song “Here You Come Again,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, became a major crossover success, reaching number three on the pop charts, spending five weeks at the top of the country charts, and earning gold. The album that accompanied it was certified platinum, and the follow-up, Heartbreaker, was certified gold. She was soon featured on the covers of both country and mainstream magazines. With the newfound wealth, a lawsuit was filed against Wagoner, who had earned a sizable part of her earnings. She recovered her copyrights by the time it was resolved, while Wagoner received a small sum and the studio they shared. Making Plans, a delayed duet album released in 1980 in the aftermath of the lawsuit, peaked at number two on the country charts.
Parton’s commercial success grew in 1980, with three consecutive number one hits: “Starting Over Again,” “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” and “9 to 5,” all written by Donna Summer. Parton’s acting debut, 9 to 5, used the latter as the theme song. The film, which also starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, was a tremendous hit and established Parton as a cinematic star. Her first number one pop hit was also achieved with this song. Parton’s career took off after 9 to 5 and continued until the early 1980s. She started to feature in additional films, such as the Burt Reynolds musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and the Sylvester Stallone comedy Rhinestone (1985). (1984). Parton’s songs continued to chart in the country Top Ten: she scored 12 Top Ten hits between 1981 and 1985, half of which were number one singles. Parton’s pop chart success continued, with a re-recorded version of “I Will Always Love You” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas making the Top 50 and her Kenny Rogers duet “Islands in the Stream” (written by the Bee Gees and produced by Barry Gibb) spending two weeks at number one.
By 1985, however, many long-term admirers thought Parton was wasting his time pursuing the mainstream. The majority of her CDs were dominated by adult contemporary pop songs like “Islands in the Stream,” and she hadn’t performed pure country in years. She also pursued new commercial and entertainment opportunities, such as her Dollywood theme park, which debuted in 1985. Despite these reservations, she enjoyed a successful career on the charts until 1986, when none of her songs made the Top Ten. After her contract with RCA Records ended that year, she joined with Columbia in 1987.
Parton recorded the rootsy Trio album with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris before releasing her Columbia debut. Trio was a tremendous success, receiving critical and popular praise, selling over a million copies, and reaching No. 6 on the mainstream charts; it also produced three Top Ten country singles: “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” “Telling Me Lies,” and “Those Memories of You.” She had a weekly variety television program, Dolly, on ABC after the album’s popularity, but it only lasted one season. Trio also served as the ideal springboard for her debut Columbia album, White Limozeen, released in 1989, which yielded two number one singles in “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” and “Yellow Roses.”
Though it seemed like Parton’s career had been resurrected, it was just a short resurgence until current country arrived in the early 1990s and knocked all older singers off the charts. Parton scored a number one duet with Ricky Van Shelton in 1991, “Rockin’ Years,” but she gradually faded out of the Top Ten and eventually the Top 40 following that song. Parton was a vocal opponent of radio’s treatment of elderly performers. Despite the fact that her sales had dropped, she did not vanish. Parton remained a popular figure in country music, appearing in films (the 1991 TV movie Wild Texas Wind, 1992’s Straight Talk), performing at sold-out concerts, and releasing a string of critically acclaimed albums (including 1993’s Honky Tonk Angels, a collaboration with Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn) that all sold well. Furthermore, Whitney Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You” in 1992 and brought it to number one on the pop charts for 14 weeks, making it the greatest pop success of the rock & roll period (it was dethroned four years later by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day”).
Parton’s autobiography, My Life and Other Unfinished Business, was released in 1994. Treasures, her 1996 album, was acclaimed for its eclectic mix of covers, which included Merle Haggard and Neil Young. In 1998, she released Hungry Again, and the following year, she returned with Ronstadt and Harris for a second Trio collection, as well as her solo album The Grass Is Blue. It was a well-received rootsy effort, prompting the release of additional songs similar to it on Little Sparrow in 2001 and Halos & Horns in 2002. In 2003, the patriotic For God and Country was released, followed a year later by the CD and DVD Live and Well. Parton covered her favorite pop songs from the 1960s and 1970s on her 2005 album Those Were the Days. In 2008, Dolly Records released Backwoods Barbie, Parton’s first mainstream country album in almost 20 years. In 2009, Live from London was released. Better Day, Parton’s 41st studio album, was released in 2011 by Dolly Records and included all songs written by her. Blue Smoke was published three years later, first in Australia and New Zealand in January and then in other countries, including the United States, in May.
Parton’s famous song “Coat of Many Colors” was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 2015, starring Alyvia Alyn Lind as Dolly Parton and Jennifer Nettles (of Sugarland) as her mother. Parton served as a producer on the picture, which was a box office hit, and a Christmas-themed sequel was announced for the 2016 holiday season. Parton revealed in the summer of 2016 that she will be headlining a 60-city North American concert tour, her longest run in 25 years. The tour was dubbed the Pure & Simple Tour, and she also announced that she will be releasing a new album in August 2016, a collection of 10 original love songs titled Pure & Simple.
I Believe in You, Parton’s first children’s album, was released in October 2017 and debuted at number 20 on Billboard’s Country charts. She returned a year later with the soundtrack of Dumplin’, a comedy in which her music plays an important part. Parton worked on three tracks with Linda Perry for the soundtrack, as well as duetting with Sia, Elle King, Mavis Staples, and Miranda Lambert on new songs and a few of her oldies. In 2019, Jad Abumrad, the presenter of NPR’s Radiolab, created a successful podcast series on Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton’s America was a documentary that looked at her unifying effect on American society from a number of perspectives. Kent Wells produced and co-wrote her next song, “When Life Gets Good Again,” which she released the following year. The song, which was written in reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic, followed her ten-week online series Goodnight with Dolly, in which she read bedtime tales from her non-profit children’s literacy book club Imagination Library. Along with the single, Parton gave a million dollars to Vanderbilt Medical Center to support coronavirus vaccine development. Later that year, she released A Holly Dolly Christmas, her third holiday album, which included Jimmy Fallon, Michael Bublé, and Miley Cyrus among its guests.
Dolly Parton is an American country music singer-songwriter, actress, and author. The dolly parton jolene is a song that was written by Dolly and her then-husband Carl Perkins.
Frequently Asked Questions
When was Dolly Parton born and how old is she?
Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946 and is now 72 years old.
What nationality is Dolly Parton?
Dolly Parton is an American singer, songwriter, musician, actress, author, businesswoman and humanitarian.
What was Dolly Partons real name?
Dolly Parton was actually born as Elizabeth Jane.
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