August 26, 2023 @ 7:00 PM
Tickets: Starting $350
DollyTron Outdoor Event
August 26, 2023 @ 7:00 PM
Watch Dolly on the DOLLYTRON! Outdoor event with food & drink vendors on site. The viewing area will feature a GIGANTIC DOLLYTRON video wall broadcasting live from inside the Ellis Theater! Don’t forget your chairs!
A woman of extraordinary talents, singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Dolly Parton has rightfully earned monikers such as “The Smoky Mountain Songbird,” “The Queen of Country,” “The Backwoods Barbie,” “The Queen of Nashville,” and “The Leading Lady of Country.”
Dolly has written and put together more than 3000 songs throughout her career, which has exceeded six decades. She has won many accolades, including twelve Grammy Awards, two Academy Award nominations, ten Country Music Association Awards, and three American Music Awards. Dolly Parton holds the record of having received the most Grammy Awards nominations, a total of 53. She is among only seven female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award.
Over her 50+ years in the industry, she has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts (a record for female artists that she shares with Reba McEntire), 41 Top 10 country albums (a record for any artist) and has had 110 charted singles. Her songwriting talent produced genre-busting hits for herself and others, including “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “9 to 5,” the theme song for the 1980 feature film. Parton also co-starred in the hit films Steel Magnolias and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, among others.
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born into a large family, the fourth of twelve children, on January 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, where she grew up in a one-room cabin without electricity. She came from deep in Appalachia, where music was an integral part of life for those who, like the Partons, struggled to make a hard living. Her mother was a singer who taught Dolly church music and the Elizabethan ballads her ancestors brought to America. Dolly’s grandfather was a fiddling preacher who wrote “Singing His Praise,” which was recorded by Kitty Wells. Several of Dolly’s eleven siblings have been active in music, and some worked for a time in her family band. The family listened to the Grand Ole Opry on a battery-powered radio. She started writing songs at age five, and by the time she was ten, she was making $20 a week singing on a Knoxville television show; when Dolly was just thirteen, she made her first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1959. In 1964, the day after becoming the first in her family to graduate from high school, she packed a cardboard suitcase and boarded a bus for Nashville. “I had a dream,” she said, “and I had a talent, I thought. And I really believed it was going to happen.” It certainly was. On Dolly’s first day in town, she met her future husband, contractor Carl Dean, in a laundromat.
The early- to mid-1970s was the most creatively fertile period of Parton’s country music career. She was voted the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1975 and 1976. Additionally, 1973 yielded what some considered her most nearly perfect album, My Tennessee Mountain Home, a bittersweet look back at life and a tradition she was determined to leave behind. The album’s cover is a picture of the cabin where she grew up in Sevierville; the songs, especially the title cut, are matter-of-fact tributes to a people and a vanishing way of life. “I wanted to be free. I had my songs to sing, I had an ambition, and it burned inside me. It was something I knew would take me out of the mountains. I knew I could see worlds beyond the Smoky Mountains,” Parton told Rolling Stone in 1977.
Parton’s country career became erratic after 1978, as her name became a household word, and she became a constant presence on network TV: on talk shows, specials, and a brief, self-titled series of her own in 1976. Her movie career bounced from stellar (9 to 5) to forgettable (Rhinestone, which attempted to make Sylvester Stallone a believable country singer). Her recording triumphs included 1987’s Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt and a 1993 collaboration, Honky Tonk Angels, with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. In 1992, the singer Whitney Houston recorded Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which became a #1 smash hit in the pop market, partly due to its inclusion in the soundtrack for the movie The Bodyguard. Parton founded her own record label, Dolly Records, in 2007. Two years later, the 9 to 5 musical debuted on Broadway. Parton wrote the production’s music and lyrics and was nominated for the Best Original Score Tony award for her work.
Today, Parton is co-owner of The Dollywood Company, which operates a theme park, dinner theaters, waterpark, and other resorts. She co-owned Sandollar Productions, a film-and-television company, and since the mid-1980s, has spearheaded numerous charitable efforts.
In a media release about her documentary, “Dolly Parton: I Will Always Love You.” Parton states, “I want my legacy to be about everything that I’ve tried to do, that I did it fairly well. I love the fact that I left the Smoky Mountains to be a singer and a writer. I love the fact that I not only got to do that, but I got to be in the movies and produce movies, and to be a businesswoman. I love the fact that I have the Imagination Library, the literacy program where I give books to children from the time they’re born till they start school. And I love that I get to do so many things and that I’ve just loved doing it all. That’s what a true success is, is when you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished.”
Her literacy program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, provides free books to hundreds of thousands of children across the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, and Australia.
In 1995, Dolly Founded and Launched the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee. In 2005, Imagination Library formed the Internation Book Committee. In 2011, audio and braille books were added. In 2018, the 100 millionth book was dedicated to the Library of Congress. As of 2022, 2 million books are mailed each month globally.