Childhood & Early Life
Dolly Parton was born on 19 January 1946 at Sevier County in Tennessee, USA. She was the fourth of twelve children born to Robert Lee Parton, a farmer and construction laborer and Avie Lee. She later described her family to be economically backward.
Dolly Parton’s family was inclined towards music and she took up singing from her mother. She credits her uncle Bill Owens for supporting her for taking music as a career at a young age.
After graduating from high school in 1964 she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue her career in music.
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Dolly Parton began her professional performances at the age of 10 through television and radio shows in Knoxville, Tennessee. Later her career began flourishing in the year 1967 when she partnered with entertainer Porter Wagoner for the Porter Wagoner Show. This partnership also helped her in receiving a musical contract from RCA Records.
RCA Records released her first single as a duet partnered with Porter Wagoner, a cover of Tom Paxton’s song ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’ which was released in 1967 and reached the country top ten in early 1968. The following six years witnessed an unbreakable top ten singles from this partnership.
In 1971, Dolly Parton earned her first No.1 Country singles hit with the song ‘Joshua’. She had many more hit singles and duets in the following years which included songs like ‘Coat of many Colours’, ‘Burning the Midnight Oil’ , ‘Touch Your Woman’ and ‘The Right Combination’.
In 1973, Dolly Parton had the biggest hit until then with the single ‘Jolene’. The following year she released ‘I Will Always Love You’ – a country chart topper song that went on to be one of her signature songs.
In 1974, she had three country chart toppers to her credit – ‘Jolene’, ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘Love is Like a Butterfly’. Willing to pursue her dream of a solo career, Dolly Parton made the decision to end partnership with Porter Wagoner around this time. However, they remained in good terms and he continued to assist Dolly Parton with her records. They continued work on duet albums and their final work was in 1975 with ‘Say Forever You’ll Be Mine’.
Dolly Parton attempted to enhance her visibility by shifting from country music to pop and in the year 1976 she began her association with talent manager Sandy Galling, who went on to be her personal manager for the next 25 years. The same year she released her album ‘All I can Do’. However, the first few albums did not make it to the top of the charts though they were received fairly well.
In 1977, she released her first crossover number ‘Here You Come Again’ which topped both Pop and Country Music charts. She received her first Grammy Award for this performance in 1978. During the two years that followed, Dolly Parton continued to give hit numbers that topped country music charts as well. She made multiple television appearances during this time through interview and hosting shows.
In 1980, her popularity increased yet again with multiple hit performance that included ‘Starting Over Again’, ‘Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle To You’ and ‘9 to 5’. Dolly Parton had also acted in the comedy feature film ‘9 to 5’ in 1980. The theme song of this film became the No.1 in adult- contemporary, pop and country music charts at the same time in 1981. Dolly Parton was the only musician to have such a record.
After the success of her acting debut, she acted in quite a few movies such as ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ (1982),‘Rhinestone’ (1984), ‘Steel Magnolias’(1989), and ‘Straight Talk’(1992) other than a few television shows.
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In 1986, Dolly Parton opened a theme park by the name ‘Dollywood’ in Tennessee. The amusement park is a popular travel destination even today.
The mid-eighties were a period when Dolly Parton was still doing relatively well in music with good record sales. However, her contract with RCA Records ended during the same time after which she signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1987. In the same year she released the album ‘Trio’ along with songwriter and singer Emmylou Harris and singer Linda Ronstadt which became a hit and earned much critical acclaim.
Dolly Parton continued to strive towards success in pop music with the album ‘Rainbow’. Later she concentrated on country music and produced No. 1 hits ‘Yellow Roses’ and ‘Why'd You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That’.
Dolly Parton received much commercial success after renowned singer Whitney Houston recorded her song ‘I Will Always Love You’ for the feature film ‘The Bodyguard’, in 1992. The song as well as the album was a massive hit.
In 1993, her album ’Slow Dancing With The Moon’ won much critical acclaim. In the same year the songwriters of her song ‘The Day I Fall in Love’, which was featured in the movie ‘Beethoven’s 2nd’ won an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Until the late 1990s her songs were appreciated and maintained their uniqueness.
Beginning 1999 she recorded a series of albums inspired by Bluegrass music – a type of American country music. She made four albums ‘The Grass isBlue’ (1999), ‘Little Sparrow’ (2001), ‘Halos & Horns’ (2002) and ‘Those Were the Days’ (2005). In 2005, she also wrote the song ‘Travelin’ Thru’ for the feature film ‘Transamerica’ for which she was nominated for an Academy Award that year.
Since then she has been active through appearances on musical shows, releasing her own song collection and so on. In 2013, she collaborated with Kenny Rogers for a musical album ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’. In 2014, she released her 42nd album ‘Blue Smoke’.
Awards & Achievements
Dolly Parton has received 25 awards in gold, platinum and multi-platinum category certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Her music album ‘New Harvest, First Gathering’ won the favourite Country Album category of the American Music Awards in 1978.
In 1979, she won the Grammy Award in the category for Best Country Vocal performance for the song ‘Here You Come Again’.
Dolly Parton won the 1992 Grammy Award for her song in ‘9 to 5’ in the Best Country Vocal performance category.
In 1988 she won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with her album ‘Trio’.
Dolly Parton was inducted into Country Music Hall of fame in the year 1999.
She won the Grammy Award in the Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for the song ‘After the Gold Rush’ in 2000.
In 2001, her album ‘The Grass is Blue’ won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
In 2002, she once again won the Best Female Country Vocal Performance category of the Grammy Awards for the song’ Shine’.
In 2011, Dolly Parton was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.