Dolly Parton sings her iconic song “I Will Always Love You” to fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner on his 50th Opry anniversary.
Dolly Parton is not just a singer-songwriter with more than 3,000 tunes to her writing credit and more than 50 years of experience in the music business. 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. She’s released children’s picture books based on her 1971 hit “Coat of Many Colors” (which itself was based on her childhood of poverty and the now-famous winter coat of rags her mother lovingly sewed for her). She founded the Imagination Library in 1995 to provide books to children in her home region of East Tennessee and has recently released a children’s album, I Believe in You, with proceeds benefiting Imagination Library.
One of the most honored female country performers of all time, Parton has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1969, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, and was the 2016 recipient of the Country Music Association’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, which 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.
We’ve chosen Parton’s performance of “I Will Always Love You” as a big birthday shout-out — she was born on January 19, 1946 — and as a way to honor the multitalented artist for her positive representation of country music. She sings it to Porter Wagoner on the occasion of his 50th Opry anniversary, just five months before his death in 2007.
Porter had introduced a 21-year-old Parton to the public on his variety show in 1967. The two would become popular vocal partners into the 1970s and lifelong friends. She wrote “I Will Always Love You” as a way to say goodbye to Wagoner after being on his show for seven years.
According to Country Rebel, the song brought Wagoner to tears when Parton first sang it to him. “He said, ‘That’s the prettiest song I ever heard. And you can go, providing I get to produce that record.’ And he did, and the rest is history,” Wagoner’s daughter Debra told Country Rebel.