14 Mar Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton – True Legend
Dolly Parton needs no introduction. She doesn’t even need a last name. In addition to being a prolific songwriter, trailblazing singer, author, actress, producer and, philanthropist, she is an inspiration to songwriters everywhere, regardless of genre. Here, we happily pay tribute to this iconic living legend.
Humble Beginnings to Wide-Ranging Success
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born into a poor but musical family in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. To say she comes from a large family is an understatement. She was one of twelve children, six boys and, six girls. According to her own website, her uncle, Bill Owens, helped her get her start in the music business by landing her a spot on a local television show in Knoxville. From there she began making appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. By age 18, she had moved to Nashville and quickly became a staple on the Porter Waggoner show.
From early success with the Porter Wagoner show, it didn’t take long for Dolly’s career to skyrocket. You probably already know about Dolly’s superstardom as an artist and performer. You may know about her success as an entrepreneur (founding Dollywood in 1986) and her successful forays into acting. She starred in several Hollywood films (including 1980’s 9 to 5 and the 1982 remake of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), then later in her career starred in a number of made-for-TV movies.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with all of Dolly’s awards and accomplishments. During her 40-year career, she has had over 110 charted singles and 41, yes 41, of her albums held Top Ten spots on the country charts. She’s earned nine Grammys, 10 Country Music Association awards, and three American Music awards. She’s been nominated for an Emmy, a Tony, and two Academy Awards, with no signs of slowing down. She just recently co-wrote the soundtrack to the Netflix movie, “Dumplin’.
Take away the larger-than-life persona, the successful performing career, the acting achievements and you’re still left with Dolly Parton, the world-class songwriter.
Parton’s earliest successes—before she made it big as a singer—were in songwriting. She wrote for numerous other artists. She co-wrote, with her uncle Bill, two top-10 hits in the 1960s: “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” recorded by Bill Phillips in 1966, and “Fuel to the Flame,” a 1967 release by Skeeter Davis.
In 1967 she started singing with Porter Wagoner and performing in his variety show. They had numerous top-10 singles over the next 6 years, some of which were of course written or co-written by Dolly.
For Dolly Parton, songwriter was just one of many hats (or should we say wigs?) she wore. She continued recording, both with Wagoner and on her own, until she scored her first number-one single in 1971. “Joshua” is an iconic and enduring song with bluegrass roots. Just a few years later she hit it big again with “Jolene,” an anthem where a woman begs another not to steal her man. “Jolene” would go on to be covered by numerous artists. In 2016 Pentatonix collaborated with Dolly Parton for a new, high-energy a cappella rendition of the tune.
Performing rights organization BMI notes that Parton has received more than 35 awards for her songwriting through the organization. BMI named Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which she recorded twice and Whitney Houston recorded once in 1993, as Song of the Year at the BMI Pop awards. Parton’s recordings of that song were chart-toppers on the country charts, while Houston’s was an even bigger success, topping the pop charts for 14 weeks and becoming the best-selling single both written and performed by a female vocalist.
In 2001, Dolly Parton was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Fellow inductees that year included Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Diane Warren, and Paul Williams. In the nearly 20 years since her induction, she’s continued writing, recording, and performing.
Hard Work and Discipline
No one would argue that Dolly Parton has immense raw talent. But she also has incredible discipline and persistence. How does she win so many awards and write so many chart-topping hits? When Larry King, in a 2009 televised interview, asked Dolly about her prolific output, she stated that she’d written north of 3,000 songs since she was 7 years old and that she writes daily—whether that’s a complete song or just a snippet. That’s a great way to increase your chances of having a song recorded or winning an award, as evidenced by her 35 songwriting awards in the span of 40 years.
She Uses Her Powers for Good
Dolly Parton has created a legacy as a songwriter and musician. She’s also used her wealth to support numerous charitable efforts, including literacy and health-related charities. Inspired by her own father’s inability to read or write, she created the Imagination Library, which sends free books to children every month from birth to five years old. To date, Dolly’s Imagination Library has given away over 100 million, age-related books. Beginning in Sevier County, TN, where Dolly was born and raised, the program has now grown to the entire state of Tennessee and many other states as well as other countries around the world.
Are You the Next Dolly?
Think you have what it takes to be the next Dolly? Check out Music City Song Star’s songwriting contest. Our songwriting competition, held twice every year, is a great place to gain exposure and a little celebrity status—not to mention the $5,000 cash prize and a trip to the Music City to perform your song at Leiper’s Fork Distillery! Check out MusicCitySongStar.com for more information.
You might also like these related blogs on top songwriters:
- Meet Today’s Pop Songwriters
- All-Time Greatest Rock and Roll Songwriters
- Today’s Best Rap & Hip-Hop Songwriters
- Today’s Top Broadway Musical Composers
About us: Foxhedge Music is a management company and recording studio located in historic Leipers Fork. Our mission is to support and encourage songwriters. We believe they are the back-beat of Music City, while we continue to invest our time and resources in the Music City community. Through the Music City SongStar Songwriting Contest, we want to give songwriters a chance to have their music heard. We’re believers in creativity, chasing dreams and getting the chance to pursue your passion. Need inspiration? Explore Secrets to Better Songwriting or How to Sell A Song.
Who’s your favorite songwriter? Leave us your comments.