We, at New England Country Music, are continuing our series spotlighting women in country music. While the acronym WCW, standing for ‘Women Crush Wednesday,’ is often used for physical attraction, that is not the case here. This series will feature talented women who are crushing the country music scene.
Welcome to our tenth WCW article. We are marking this milestone by featuring the one and only, Dolly Parton. This seventy-three-year-old was born in a tiny, one-room house in rural Tennessee. She grew up quite poor and the fourth of twelve children, in Locust Ridge, TN. Her mother stayed home and raised the children while her father worked as a sharecropper. Mr. Parton had little education and could not read or write. Dolly spent her younger days in the church where her grandfather was the Pastor. She began singing in church when she was six years old. She took up an interest in the guitar when she was seven and she was gifted her first guitar when she was eight. A couple years later, Dolly was singing on local radio and television shows. She signed with a small record label, Goldband Records, and at the age of thirteen she recorded her first single, ‘Puppy Love.’ The day after she graduated from high school. She made the move to Music City.
Once in Nashville, Dolly Parton signed with Combine Publishing and took on songwriting. She wrote two top-ten hits: ‘Put It Off Until Tomorrow’ for Bill Phillips and ‘Fuel to the Flame’ for Skeeter Davis. When this young’un was only nineteen, she signed with Monument Records as a bubblegum pop singer and released several singles. It took some convincing, but the label eventually allowed Dolly to pursue her love of the country genre. She went on to drop her first full length album, ‘Hello, I’m Dolly.’ In 1967, Parton was asked to join Porter Wagoner on his television show. Wagoner’s label, RCA Victor, eventually signed Dolly and the pair went on to release top ten singles for the next few years. Her first solo number one single was ‘Joshua.’ Arguably her biggest hit thus far, ‘Jolene,’ dropped in 1973. She had two other singles reach top ten status in 1974, ‘I Will Always Love You,’ and ‘Love Is Like a Butterfly.’
It was about this time in her life that Parton decided to part ways with Wagoner to pursue her solo career. From the mid 1970s to the early 1980s, Parton had eight singles reach number one. In 1987, Parton’s contract with RCA was not renewed and she signed with Columbia Records. This same year she collaborated with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt to release their much-anticipated album, ‘Trio.’ ‘Trio’ went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The early nineties brought Dolly Parton so much success when Whitney Houston recorded ‘I Will Always Love You’ and it was used as the soundtrack of the movie sensation The Bodyguard. She was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. It was then that she dropped a bluegrass-inspired album, ‘The Grass is Blue,’ which went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. In 2007, Parton started releasing albums under her own record company, Dolly Records. Some of her more recent albums include: ‘Backwoods Barbie,’ ‘Better Day,’ ‘Blue Smoke,‘ ‘Pure & Simple,’ and ‘I Believe in You.’
This WCW has had twenty-six songs reach number one on the Billboard country chart. She has had forty-two albums reach top-10. Parton has had forty-six Grammy Award nominations, a record tied only with Beyoncé. Parton has been awarded a total of nine Grammy Awards. She has been nominated for eighteen American Music Awards, and won three. She has been nominated for thirty-nine ACM Awards and won seven. Dolly is one of only six female artists to have won the ACM Entertainer of the Year award. A title she took home in 1978. In the eighties, she was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Parton was inducted to the Grande Ole Opry in 1969 and she was inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986.
Over the years, Dolly Parton went on to write some classic hits including ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ ‘I Will Always Love You’ (that’s right! It’s a Dolly song, not a Whitney song), and ‘Jolene.’ Despite her modest upbringing, the sheer magnitude of what she has accomplished is overwhelming. She is absolutely a legend in the country music world. Some of Dolly’s words to live by: “You can be rich in spirit, kindness, love and all those things that you can’t put a dollar sign on.”
Though she is not currently touring, you can listen to many of her hit songs on iTunes.
Be sure to download one of our favorites, ‘Jolene’ on iTunes here.
Stay tuned for our next installment of WCW in country music. It is set to hit our page on Wednesday May 22nd.