Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

One of the most iconic figures in country music, Dolly Parton distinguished herself as a singer, songwriter, and all-around entertainer, ultimately transcending the confines of country to become a celebrity whose sphere was bigger than any single genre. Born in Sevierville, Tennessee, Parton grew up literally dirt poor, living in a one-room cabin in the Tennessee mountains with her mother, sharecropper father, and 11 siblings. The performing bug bit Parton early, and she began singing professionally while still a child, appearing on local radio and TV programs. In 1964 she relocated to Nashville to pursue songwriting. Parton ended up writing for several successful country artists, including Skeeter Davis, Kitty Wells, and Hank Williams, Jr. Country star Porter Wagoner drafted Parton to replace his departing partner Norma Jean on his weekly TV show in 1967. That same year, she and Wagoner began recording as a duo. Their partnership was successful from the start, yielding a long string of hits. But though Parton had been recording as a solo artist since before working with Wagoner, releasing her debut album, Hello, I'm Dolly, in '67, her own efforts were consistently overshadowed and outsold by the duo's output. She quit the show in '73 to concentrate on her solo career, though they made a couple more records together. Parton kicked into high gear immediately with a long string of chart-topping singles, including 1974's "I Will Always Love You," which would become even bigger in 1992 when Whitney Houston's version became one of the top-selling singles of all time. Parton scored a truckload of big hits throughout the '70s and '80s, and with her flamboyant image and sassy, self-possessed attitude, she became a mainstream celebrity, crossing over to the pop market beginning with 1977's "Here You Come Again." She hosted her own TV variety series in 1976, and starting with 1980's hit film "9 to 5," she began a successful movie acting career that included hits like "Steel Magnolias" (1989) and "Dumlin'" (2018) as well as high-profile flops like "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas" (1982) and "Rhinestone" (1984). In the late '80s she had a sideline working in a trio with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, with great critical and commercial success. Starting in the late '90s she reached back to her roots, releasing a series of bluegrass albums. As gifted a businesswoman as she is an artist, Parton established multiple enterprises outside her music career, including her Dollywood theme park and several others. Over the course of her career, she was been honored by the Golden Globes, The Grammys, and just about every other awards organization, becoming one of country's most widely celebrated artists ever.


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