With her prodigious songwriting talent, vocal and instrumental prowess, charisma, and trademark style, Dolly Parton has achieved immense global success as a musician and blazed a trail for generations of artists to come. In a career spanning six decades, she has recorded more than 50 studio albums and, by her own estimation, written nearly 3,000 songs.
Parton’s life started in a one-room cabin in Tennessee – humble beginnings that would inspire songs like “Coat of Many Colors.” Music provided an escape and filled Parton’s cup of ambition. At age 11, she co-wrote and released her first single, “Puppy Love” (1959). After high school, Parton moved to Nashville, where her compositions were recorded by artists including Hank Williams Jr. and Kitty Wells. Showcasing her songwriting acumen and her airy, yet gritty voice, Parton’s 1967 debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly, was a hit, and as a regular on The Porter Wagoner Show, she won over the audience with her talent and charm. After a string of successful duets with Wagoner and solo Number One hits like the rollicking “Joshua” and the haunting “Jolene,” Parton parted ways with Wagoner to take control of her career. Their split inspired Parton’s chart-topping “I Will Always Love You”: In addition to Whitney Houston’s smash cover of that song, Parton’s “Jolene” has been recorded by such diverse artists as the White Stripes.
Parton’s unapologetic femininity belied her shrewd business acumen, an asset in the male-dominated music industry. Refusing to be underestimated, she set her sights on the pop charts, and the strategy paid off. Her pop hits include “Here You Come Again,” “9 to 5” – the title track for the film in which she co-starred – and her Number One duet with Kenny Rogers, “Islands in the Stream” (1983). Other collaborations include a series of recordings with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, under the name Trio.
A living legend and a paragon of female empowerment, Parton is beloved not only for her prolific body of work, quintessential style, and philanthropic efforts, but for the humor, wit, and self-deprecating grace that shine through everything she does. Her crossover success broadened the audience for country music and expanded the horizons for countless artists who followed.
“Joshua,” Joshua (1971) • Coat of Many Colors (1971) • “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” Jolene (1974) • “Here You Come Again,” “Two Doors Down,” Here You Come Again (1977) • “9 to 5,” 9 to 5 and Other Odd Jobs (1980) • White Limozeen (1989) • The Grass Is Blue (1999) • Little Sparrow (2001) • “Travelin’ Thru” (2006) • Blue Smoke (2014)
Brenda Lee, Rose Maddox, Kitty Wells
Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Jack White
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