The multitalented performer has been a country icon for more than 50 years.
Dolly Parton has always done a whole lot more than perform hits like “Jolene” and “Here You Come Again” in concert. She’s not just a singer-songwriter with more than 3,000 tunes to her writing credit. She’s also an actor, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian.
The Appalachia-born entertainer co-owns Dollywood, the theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near where she grew up “dirt poor” in a one-room cabin in Locust Ridge. On October 18, she’s releasing a children’s picture book based on her 1971 hit “Coat of Many Colors” (Grosset and Dunlap), which itself was based on her childhood of poverty and the now-famous winter coat of rags her mother lovingly sewed for her. (The actual coat is on view at the Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood.) A lover of literacy projects, Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 to provide books to children in her home region of East Tennessee.
A member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1969 and a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee in 1999, Parton is among the most honored female country performer of all time. She’ll add another country music milestone to her ever-growing list of achievements when she takes the stage November 2 at the 50th Country Music Association Awards to accept the 2016 Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes artists who have attained the highest degree of recognition in country music and who present themselves in a positive light as performers, humanitarians, and philanthropists.
To honor the multitalented artist for her positive representation of country music, we’ve chosen her vintage performance of “I Will Always Love You” as our Opry Performance of the Week. Written and originally performed by Parton, the song — released in 1974 and rereleased in 1982, going to No. 1 both times — is a farewell to one-time musical partner Porter Wagoner that marks their professional split when she decided to pursue a solo career. More recently, the song again reached No. 1 when Whitney Houston covered it in 1992 for the film The Bodyguard; her version has become the all-time bestselling single by a woman.
Parton’s next live public performance will take place as part of her Pure & Simple Tour on November 15, at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.