Her full name is Dolly Rebecca Parton and she was born on January 19, 1946. Apart from being known for her work and accomplishments in American country music, Dolly Parton continues to be widely acclaimed as a humanitarian, businesswoman, author, actress and singer-songwriter too. Dolly’s career started early in her life, as a child artist on the Cas Walker radio show, and then with recording of some singles after she turned 13. She relocated to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 18 and her first commercial success arrived in the form of a songwriter. The songs sung by her during that period of her life were later covered by several popular artists, including Kitty Wells and Bill Phillips. Her prominence reached an altogether new high after she appeared as a featured performer on the Porter Wagoner’s weekly program on television, in the year 1967. The first duet single that she sang with him, “The last thing on my mind”, a cover of the famous Tom Paxton song, quickly climbed up into the top 10 of the country singles charts at that time, and led them both to release many successful albums before ending their partnership in the year 1974.
Dolly slowly drifted towards the mainstream pop music and released a highly successful single “Here you come again” in the year 1977, which was a big hit on the pop as well as the country charts. Thereafter, she sang various pop country hits up until the mid-1980s era, with “9 to 5” (Featured in the film of the same name) being her biggest hit from that time. “Islands in the stream” a duet that she sang with Kenny Rogers in the year 1983 also went on to top the country and pop singles charts in the United States. Her later successes came in the form of couple of albums she recorded with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. She made a grand return to the bluegrass and classic country genre during the late 90s with several acclaimed recordings.
Her non-music involvements
Some of Dolly Parton’s non-music involvements include Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, her initiatives related to the childhood literacy (Imagination Library) and a theme park known as Dollywood in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. Her entertainment businesses attract as many as 4.5 million visitors per year and serve as means of employment for over 3000 people.
Her respect as a business woman has grown tremendously over the decades. She’s the one who had established Velvet Apple Music (BMI) very early in her career and owns the publishing as well as the copyrights of her phenomenal songwriting heritage. Dolly also has her own highly successful record label going by the name Blue Eye Records.
Having gained tremendous respect over the years for her business acumen, Dolly Parton slowly transitioned into production of hit TV shows and movies by establishment of Sandollar Productions with Sandy Gallin, her former manager. The production house it is essentially a film and television production company that has produced well-known movies like Sabrina, Father of the Bride (Part I and Part II), IQ, Shining Through, Straight Talk and the Academy Award winning film (in the Best Documentary category) Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. All these apart from the popular Fox TV shows like Babes and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
Her achievements and awards
If looked at the overall history of country music, Dolly Parton stands out as the most honored and recognized female country performer to have ever existed.
She achieved 25 RIAA certified platinum, gold and multiplatinum awards and had 25 songs that climbed up the number one spot on the Billboard country charts. This was a record number for any female artist. Dolly Parton produced 41 country albums that reached the top 10 position, a record unbeaten by any artist. In addition, around 110 singles of hers made it to the singles charts over a career spanning 40 years. All these apart from several other major records.
Talking about her achievements, Dolly Parton received 2 Academy Award nominations, 3 American music awards, 10 Country Music Association awards, 8 Grammy awards, 7 Academy of Country Music awards and is one of the 7 well-known female singers/artists to have won the Entertainer of the Year award from Country Music Association. In total, Dolly Parton received nominations for 46 Grammy awards, becoming one of the top 10 artists with most number of Grammy nominations, tying her with none other than the great Bruce Springsteen!
Year 1999 saw Dolly Parton getting inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. With over 3000 compositions in her portfolio, including the most popular number ‘I will always love you,’ which topped the US country charts twice, once with Dolly Parton and another time with the cover sang by Whitney Houston, she’s among the very few musicians who have received at least one nomination from the Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards.
Dolly owns her own star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted as a member by the National Academy of Popular Music Song Writers Hall of Fame in the year 2001. Further recognition came from the Broadcast Music Inc. which honored Dolly in the year 2003 with an Icon Award. In the year 2004 Dolly was presented a Living Legend award by the US Library of Congress for her contributions to the maintenance and advancement of US cultural heritage. The following year, in 2005, she was bestowed with the National Medal of Arts by the United States government, the highest honor that can be received by anyone for excellence in the field of arts in the United States.
Year 2006 saw Dolly getting honored for her lifetime contributions in the field of arts by the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts. In 2007, she received the prestigious Johnny Mercer award which is exclusively reserved for songwriters already inducted into the Hall of Fame in any of the earlier years, and whose work is of such phenomenal quality and social impact that they deserve the gold standard established by none other than the great Johnny Mercer.
Her accomplishments as an actress are nothing lesser than what she accomplished as a musician. She starred in popular movies like Steel Magnolias, 9 to 5, A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Gnomeo & Juliet, Joyful Noise, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Wild Texas Wind, Rhinestone, Unlikely Angel, Straight Talk and Blue Valley Songbird.
The coveted Grammy lifetime achievement award was bestowed on Dolly Parton in February 2011, owing to her creative contributions (having outstanding artistic significance) in the recording industry.