When people around the word are seeking guidance and help they usually go to hear the words of the great Dalai Lama. But if you leave in the rural Tennesse mountains the Dolly you know and go to is Dolly Pardon.
Her life is a rags-to-rhinestones story which began on January 19, 1946, and remains as vibrant and relevant as ever.
Born the fourth child of 12, to mother Avie Lee and father, Robert Lee, Dolly grew up in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.
Music runs deep in the Parton family and while many played important parts in Dolly’s success, she credits Uncle Bill Owens for helping her get started in the music business.
From taking the stage of “The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour” in Knoxville, TN, to landing a spot on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” Dolly’s talent and ambition soon catapulted her to super-stardom.
But it is Dolly’s philanthropy and generous nature that places her in a category all her own.
Today, her songs have captured the hearts of generations. Her electric smile has brightened the lives of millions. Her trademark style is recognized across the globe.
During the early 1980s, Dolly found herself spending a lot of time on the West Coast pursuing her dreams of being in the movies and television. Even as she landed leading roles in blockbuster films like ‘9 to 5,’ she kept dreaming…big!
Every day, driving to and from the production studios, she would see the world famous Hollywood sign, and every day that sign would be a source of inspiration for her. Dolly said, “I can remember looking up at the Hollywood sign the first time I was in L.A. and thinking I would like to change that H to a D.”
With leading roles in blockbuster movies now a reality, Dolly set out once again to follow her heart, which would ultimately lead her back home to the Great Smoky Mountains. You see, as much as Dolly enjoyed her fast-paced life in California, she held tightly to her Tennessee roots.
In 1986, Dolly partnered with the Herschend family to redevelop a theme park near her hometown in East Tennessee, then known as Silver Dollar City.
She envisioned a place where the culture and people of the Smoky Mountains would be celebrated and enjoyed by everyone. She knew the park would provide many good things for the people she cared about, including her family and the people of Sevier County.
Dollywood was born. The Great Dolly mountains became the butt of late-night TV comics. There gone but Dollywood is bigger than ever. Spanning 150 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood offers more than 40 rides, 15 exceptional shows, five of the South’s largest festivals, Southern-style dining, and the friendliest employees in the world!
Dollywood hosts over 3 million guests in a typical season—Presidents’ Day to the Christmas holidays—Dollywood is the biggest “ticketed” tourist attraction in Tennessee
Today, that theme park is also the largest provider of jobs in Sevier County.
One little girl’s dream of making it big started way up in the hollow of Locust Ridge, had found its way back home to the Smokies.
The cost is not insubstantial, either, considering the park’s location in East Tennessee, where a majority of counties are economically distressed or at-risk, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission. The region has historically lagged behind the rest of the country in many economic indicators. Income in the Appalachians is about 25% less than the U.S. average, the commission reported in 2011.
So it’s really saying something that the relatively expensive park — one-day passes to Dollywood cost $62 while a season pass to the park is $99. So it is safe to say tourism is the life blood of this area. The chief export is southern hospitality.
On Nov. 28, severe drought and high-speed winds sent a 5-day-old, 1.5-acre fire racing from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park toward Gatlinburg and surrounding Sevier County, Tenn., communities near Dollywood.
More than 11,000 park acres were burned. Authorities failed to evacuate residents, and the firestorm ultimately killed 14 people, injured hundreds more, and destroyed 2,400 structures.
“As word of the fire was spreading, we were contacted by about 75 different people. They represent more than 30 research institutions,” said Paul Super, the park’s research coordinator. “The vast majority were people who have done research in the park, some for a long time.
Many were people who thought they might have had study plots that were within the area of burns. They want to go back and see how things changed.
“They were saying, ‘Our expertise is in research so, if there is anything we can do to help you better understand how things happened, how to prevent it from happening again or how to move forward with it, we would like to do it.’ “
Karen Hughes, a University of Tennessee professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, stated “We have worked in the Smokies for 40 years. We love the place,” she said. “We felt a strong need to do something … to help document the biodiversity of the Smokies and look at the recovery.
That is how we responded. After the first shock, the ‘Oh, my gosh,’ then it was, ‘What can we do?’ ”
With all things ask the Dolly, our profit of the Smoky Mountains. Quicky Dolly organized her vast companies to come to the aid of the victims of the devastating fire. Time was one luxury these families didn’t have.
The Dollywood Foundation announced it will donate $1,000 a month to “all of those families who lost their homes in the fires” for six months. This gift of love was Dolly’s attempt to once again save the Great Smoky Mountains and the people who live there. Her people.
“As you may know by now, there have been terrible wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home,” country music star and Dollywood co-owner Dolly Parton wrote in a statement. “I have always believed that charity begins at home. That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood companies … to help me establish the ‘My People Fund.'”
Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Foundation has given $10,000 each to nearly 900 families displaced by deadly wildfires in Tennessee last year.
The singer said in a statement that the final distribution of checks was made this week to families in Sevier County to help them rebuild.
Parton held a star-studded telethon to bring in hundreds of thousands of donations to the fund. But the singer isn’t stopping her charity. She said $3 million will be used to start a new fund called Mountain Tough Recovery, which will continue to aid residents affected by the fires.
Parton grew up dirt poor, made it big, and brought it back, and that has kept her in the hearts and minds of locals for years. In Sevierville, where she grew up, a statue was erected in her honor in 1987.
A lot of people who grow up poor are embarrassed by it, but Parton has been claiming her heritage and her community since her first hit songs.
In 1995, Dolly launched her Imagination Library in Sevier County, TN, where she was born and raised. Inspired by her own father’s inability to read or write, she determined that there had to be a way to help children fall in love with books. The program sent free books to children from birth to age five and helped inspire a love of reading in the lives of the children in the mountains of her youth.
Great ideas and unselfish dreams always have wings to fly, and such is the case with Dolly’s Imagination Library. It spread from one county to the entire state of Tennessee. The excitement and results of the program kept growing until it spread all over the United States. From there, it expanded to Canada, Great Britain, and now it has reached the other side of the globe in Australia.
Generations of young children and adults affectionately call Dolly ‘The Book Lady,’ a title Dolly warmly embraces and one that gave her father great pride.
With more than 70 million free, age-appropriate books mailed to date, Dolly’s Imagination Library is just getting started, and there seems to be no slowing down in sight!
GOLD IN THEM THERE HILLS
This year’s Grammy nod brings Dolly’s total Grammy Award nominations to 47 and at the end of the night, The 2017 GRAMMY win gives Dolly her eighth competitive win.
In 2011, the organization honored Dolly with the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. She received her first trophy with “Here You Come Again” in 1978 followed by two wins for “9 to 5” (Best Country Song & Best Female Country Vocal Performance) 1981, “Trio” (Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal) 1987, “After The Gold Rush” (Best Country Collaboration With Vocals) 1999, “The Grass Is Blue” (Best Bluegrass Album) 2000, and “Shine” (Best Female Country Vocal Performance) 2001.
OUT OF THE MOUTH OF A NOT SO DUMB BLONDE
- “You never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”
- “I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.”
- “If you see someone without a smile, give them yours.”
- “People say, ‘Oh, you just always seem so happy.’ Well, that’s the Botox.”
- “You’re just a step on the boss man’s ladder. But you got dreams he’ll never take away.”
- “I don’t kiss nobody’s butt.”
- “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forgot to make a life.”
- “I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are and to love who they love.”
- “When someone shows me their true colors, I believe them.”
- “I’ll never harden my heart, but I’ve toughened the muscles around it.”
- “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”
- “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.”
- “If people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.”
- “You need to really believe in what you’ve got to offer, what your talent is — and if you believe, that gives you strength.”
- “I wish you joy and happiness. But above all of this, I wish you love.”