We all could learn a lot from Dolly Parton! Not only is she a world-renowned musical icon, creative genius, and philanthropist. But she’s also the most successful female artist in country music history. Author of over 3,000+ songs and a mainstay on the forefront of music for 60 years. She’s a ball of energy that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon!
This song is Dolly’s first country hit reaching #24 on the charts. Songwriter is Curley Putman. Her record label at the time (Monument) didn’t want her to sing country but instead promote her as a pop artist like Brenda Lee, and other female singers at the time.
But she held her ground and shortly after releasing this song, An opportunity comes her way as she replaces the regular singer on The Porter Wagoner Show. Beginning her long-running musical partnership with him. At first, the audience wasn’t impressed with her performances compared to the previous singer Norma Jean. But eventually she’s accepted by the fans of the show. Here Dolly Parton sings ‘Dumb Blonde’ at the Bobby Lord show on January 31, 1967.
Growing Up Tennessee
Growing up on the banks of the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Pittman Center, Tennessee. She is the fourth of twelve children born to Avie Lee Caroline and Robert Lee Parton Sr. While Her father works in the mountains of East Tennessee, first as a sharecropper and later tending his own small tobacco farm and acreage. He also does construction jobs to supplement the farm’s small income. While her mother cared for the family. Furthermore, Dolly credits her mother for her gift of music.
Entertaining the family with songs from the Smokey Mountains and gospel songs to entertain throughout the day. Also, Church is equally important considering her grandfather is a Pentecostal preacher, and Parton and her siblings all attended church regularly. Parton has long credited her father for her business savvy, and her mother’s family for her musical abilities. When Parton was a small girl, her family moved from the Pittman Center area to a farm up on nearby Locust Ridge. Most of her cherished memories of youth happened there. The farm acreage and surrounding woodland inspired her to write the song “My Tennessee Mountain Home” in the 70s.
Although they were dirt poor as Dolly puts it, she starts performing in the church, beginning at age six. At seven, she started playing a homemade guitar. When she was eight, her uncle bought her first real guitar. Which leads to signing on local radio and television in the East Tennessee area, by ten, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At 13, she’s recording (the single “Puppy Love”) on a small Louisiana label and appears at the Grand Ole Opry, where she first met Johnny Cash, who encourages her to follow her own instincts regarding her career. She’s also a good listener considering she took his advice! By the time she graduates high school, she heads to Nashville shortly after.
She starts off her career in the music business by finding success as a songwriter signing with Combine publishing company. Along with a little songwriting help with her songwriting partner, uncle Buck Owens. Writing several charting singles during this time, including two Top 10 hits! Bill Phillips’s “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” (1966) and Skeeter Davis’s “Fuel to the Flame” (1967). Releasing “Just Because I’m a Woman” in 1968, it’s her first solo single on her new label RCA. Which does ok but during this time it seems that the duets with Wagoner are the only songs that are going anywhere. While her solo projects are going nowhere or being ignored by the powers that be.
It Turns out as of 1969, he as her co-producer owns nearly half of Owe-Par publishing company Parton had founded with Bill Owens. Dolly becomes frustrated and Wagoner persuades her to perform “Mule Skinner Blues” by Jimmie Rodgers and something that is a popular tune at the time. It gives her career a boost by shooting up to #3, followed by the song “Joshua” and over the next two years “Coat of Many Colors in 1971 along with a huge hit in 1973, “Jolene” which is her first biggest hit! In 1974, not only does she break away from Porter Wagner but she also writes her biggest hit of her career “I will Always Love You” which she wrote about her professional break from Wagoner.
Even Elvis reaches out to her to record it which she’s excited about until she is told that she would have to sign over half of the publishing rights to any song recorded by him. She turns Elvis down and refuses the deal. Turns out, he records it anyways, and the royalties she receives is in the millions. To this day, she’s still getting royalties from it (Including Whitney Houston’s version). Between 1974 and 1980 Parton had a series of country hits, with eight singles reaching number one. Her influence on pop culture is reflected by the many performers covering her songs, including mainstream and crossover artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt.
Furthermore, it’s around this time that she’s starts crossing over to other genres as well as being approached for other projects such as television, collaborating with other artists from other genres of music, and other songwriters. Other projects include movies like “Steel Magnolias”, “9 to 5” as well as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and her daytime show “Dolly” which garners her immense popularity! In 1977, Dolly got her first Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her song “Here You Come Again.”
From Rags to Riches and Beyond!
In 1977, Dolly got her first Grammy award: Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her song “Here You Come Again.” Dolly’s movie debut was in 9 to 5 (1980), where she got an Oscar nomination for writing the title tune, and also Grammy awards 2 and 3: Best Country Song, and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song “Nine to Five.” She’s written several books, including one that she’s a co-author with James Patterson, which also comes with a companion CD with songs based on the book. She’s also on Time Magazine’s 100 list of world’s most influential people of 2021. It’s because this woman doesn’t slow down! Sure, she’s done all this cool stuff already, but she continues to see what she can do to create a better world for others. With her music, wicked sense of humor, helping those in need, she’s a beacon of light and a true humanitarian!
Winning two Emmy awards for “Christmas on the Square”, along with “Goodnight with Dolly” which is awarded Gold and Silver in multiple categories at the 42nd Annual Telly Awards. The Telly Awards honor excellence in video and television across all screens, including webseries. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted more than 159 million free books to children around the world. Dolly started the Imagination Library in honor of her father who she watched struggle with his inability to read. Of course, we can’t forget her “Dollywood theme Parks” Dolly’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Pirates Voyage Dinner Cruise Attraction, along with all the other amazing things she has done and the projects she’s still doing! She’s Truly a badass in her own right.
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