Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

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Essential Albums

  • Jolene (Bonus Track Version)

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About Dolly Parton

Her multimedia dominance notwithstanding, Dolly Parton is first and foremost one of country music's most powerful singer/songwriters. Born to a poverty-stricken family in Tennessee in 1946, she started singing in church, was given a guitar at 8 and performed on regional radio programs as a kid. She moved to Nashville the day after her high school graduation in 1964 and quickly signed with Monument Records. Her first charting single, 1966's "Dumb Blonde", introduced a fun-loving but independent woman confident enough to tweak stereotypes and command her own destiny. In the late ’60s, Parton partnered with Porter Wagoner, enjoying huge success as a regular on his weekly TV show and through a long string of collaborative hits. But she released solo work all along, and after "Jolene"—with its striking minor-key mode and emotional intensity—became a crossover success in 1974, she set out on her own. In 1980, that steady uphill climb culminated in her first No. 1, blue-collar anthem "9 to 5”. She also co-starred in the comedy film of the same name, kicking off a long, successful career on screen that included hosting two variety shows. In 1983, Parton had the biggest smash of her career with "Islands in the Stream", an easy-going romantic duet with Kenny Rogers. Further collaborations—like her albums with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, and cameos on songs by Kesha and Miley Cyrus (her goddaughter)—expanded Parton’s legacy through the end of the 20th century and well into the 21st. Over time, she became involved in everything from the Dollywood theme park to a 9 to 5 Broadway musical. But Parton’s latter-day work, such as her series of stripped-down bluegrass albums, showed she was never less than completely committed to sharing her otherworldly, yet utterly down to earth, musical gift.

Locust Ridge, TN, United States
19 January 1946

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