Dolly Parton's Small Town Roots

Dolly Parton's Small Town Roots

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She’s traveled the world, but she’s never forgotten her roots. Relive the extraordinary life of Dolly Parton through the places she’s been and the people she's inspired.

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    So, in a career that’s garnered her 10 Country Music Association awards, 2 Academy Award nominations, 45 Grammy Award nominations and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award … what is the one honor that Dolly cherishes the most? This statue outside the Sevierville, TN, courthouse. Because, she’s said, it came from the people who knew her best.
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    “Oh, these Northern nights are dreary, and my Southern heart is weary … the Smoky Mountains memories keep me strong,” Dolly once sang. Beyond song, Dolly showed her support for the mountains she loves when she joined Tennessee leaders in rededicating the Smoky Mountains National Park, on its 75th anniversary, in 2009.
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    These days, Dolly is Broadway-bound. The singer’s rise from backcountry girl to country music superstar is now being developed into a Broadway musical. And Dolly’s writing it. This won’t be her first foray into the big lights of Broadway. In 2009, "9 to 5: The Musical" debuted.
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    “Dolly has a way of making everyone feel like they’re the only one in the room.” In 2006, country singer Reba McEntire introduced her friend Dolly Parton, who was being honored at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for her prolific songwriting … and a “voice that can bring you joy and hope when it isn’t breaking your heart.”
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    The “Queen of Country Music” officially got her crown in 1999, with her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. That night, with her brother and sister cheering her on, an emotional Dolly thanked many people, including “Mr. Grand Ole Opry,” Porter Wagoner.
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    Mega-music star, hit-movie actor … and powerhouse business leader. Dolly has invested much of her earnings into business ventures -- with direct benefit to local communities. Here’s Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner theater in Branson, MO, which employs nearly 300 local people.
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    The beauty of her native Tennessee has inspired many of Dolly’s songs, so it’s only fitting that Dolly is a big conservationist. Since 1994, Dollywood has been home to a 30,000-square-foot aviary, which houses America’s largest presentation of non-releasable bald eagles.
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    Dolly’s pride in her east Tennessee roots has enriched her local community. In 1986, Dolly opened Dollywood, which is now the No. 24 theme park in the US and employs 3,000 people -- including many senior citizens. Among its attractions is Splash Country waterpark, which opened in Pigeon Forge, TN, in 2001.
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    In 1989, Dolly starred in another smash-hit film "Steel Magnolias," which was filmed here, in Natchitoches, LA. As beauty salon owner Truvy Jones, Dolly offers tell-it-like-it-is, one-liners: “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.”
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    Speaking to her crossover appeal, Dolly got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984. By then, Dolly had already starred in the mega-hit "9 to 5" as secretary-hero Doralee Rhodes, who tells her boss, "I'm gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!” Dolly also sang the movie’s title song, which was No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 2 weeks.
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    By her early 20s, Dolly had already made 2 studio albums and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry’s roster of singing legends. More than 40 years later, Dolly remains an active member and performs here several times a year.
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    The day after she graduated high school, Dolly headed to Nashville, America’s country music capital. At Ryman Auditorium (the Grand Ole Opry’s home at the time), Dolly got this advice from Johnny Cash: “Go where your heart takes you.” Dolly poured her heart into songs like “Love and Learn.”
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