If you don’t love Dolly Parton, you have no soul. I said what I said.
While you may not be a fan of country music, there’s no denying that this tiny woman with the giant talent is a national – even global – treasure. She’s about to release her 49th studio album, Rockstar, in November, and EVERYONE wants to be part of it. Among the names she’s collaborating with on this largely covers project: Paul and Ringo, Sheryl Crow, Ann Wilson, Sting, Steven Tyler, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, Peter Frampton, John Fogerty, and Elton John. That’s just for starters (there are a total of 30 tracks).
Talent recognizes talent, as they say. I mean, she wrote two of her biggest hits “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day. Some of us feel productive if we’ve managed to take out the trash and put our pants on.
This dip into rock music isn’t completely surprising; she’s already done stunning covers of “Stairway to Heaven” and Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush.”
Dolly was put up for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 but politely declined, stating that it wasn’t her main thing and she didn’t want to steal a spot from another more rock-friendly artist. Yet the fans spoke, and she later found herself on stage, decked out in black leather, and rockin’ a few hardcore riffs on an electric guitar (long nails and all).
But let’s face it: beyond her obvious talent, Dolly just puts a lot of “nice” out into the world. You won’t find anyone in the cutthroat business of show with a bad word to say about her. After decades, that’s an accomplishment in itself. So, it’s no surprise that all these A-list rock stars want to work with her on this upcoming album.
As a savvy businesswoman, Dolly’s made millions. But did she buy a social media platform, a spaceship, or a giant yacht? Nope, she’s quietly plowing her dough back into her community and the people who need it most. She frequently talks about her hardscrabble roots in the Smoky Mountains and has never forgotten them.
A couple of years back, she announced that every employee – even part-timers and recent hires – of her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN, would receive full college tuition, including money for books.
She’s quietly bought band uniforms for a local high school in her area with no one the wiser until very recently. The 10 million dollars (and counting) in royalties generated from Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” have been funneled to a black community in Nashville. Early in the pandemic, she contributed a million dollars towards the development of the Covid vaccine at Vanderbilt University (even doing a cute PSA showing her getting one of the first shots).
Then there’s a project close to her heart, the Imagination Library. Parton’s father couldn’t read so in 1995, she began a program to send children a new book of their own every month through their 5th birthday. Over 200 million books have been gifted to kids, giving them a head start on a lifelong love of reading.
In this age when we bang into the rough edges of the world at every turn, Dolly provides a sweet buffer zone. Even when she’s wearing black leather.
Rockstar is available for pre-order.
Photo: Dolly Parton (Getty)