Worth an estimated six hundred and ten million dollars ($ 610,000,000), Dolly Rebecca Parton has become almost as well-known as a philanthropist and humanitarian as she is a Country Music star.
Born on January 19, 1946, she is described as ‘an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actress, author, businesswoman and humanitarian, known primarily for her work in Country music’.
After achieving success as a songwriter, Dolly Parton made her album debut in 1967 with ‘Hello, I’m Dolly’ which led to success during the remainder of the 1960s, both as a solo artist and with a series of duet albums with Porter Wagoner. Her sales and chart peak came during the 1970s and continued well into the 1980s.
She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has had 25 songs reach No 1 on the Billboard Country Music charts, a record for a female artist (tied with Reba McEntire). She has 44 Top 10 country albums, a record for any artist and has 110 charted singles over the past 40 years.
Among a string of awards too numerous to mention, she has 11 Grammy awards and 50 nominations including the Lifetime Achievement Award and ten Country Music Association Awards. She is one of only seven female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
Of the 3,000 plus songs she has written, hits include ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘Jolene’, ‘9 To 5’ and ‘Coat Of Many Colours’ etc. An accomplished actress, she has starred in films such as ‘9 to 5’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ (for which she earned Golden Globe nominations for best actress), to name just some.
Dolly was raised in a one-room cabin on the banks of the Little Pigeon River in Tennessee and she herself described her family as being ‘dirt poor’. Her earliest public performances were in the church where her grandfather was pastor. At age 13, she appeared at the Grand Ole Opry where she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to follow her own instincts regarding her career.
Having graduated from High School, Dolly moved to Nashville the very next day where she went on to write several charting singles. Her songs were recorded by many other artists during this period, including Kitty Wells and Hank Williams Jnr.
In 1967, Porter Wagoner invited her to join his organisation, offering her a regular spot on his weekly syndicated television programme, ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ and in his road show. What followed was a recording of a duet of Tom Paxton’s ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’, making the Country Top 10 in January 1968 and what followed, was a six-year streak of virtually uninterrupted Top 10 singles for the pair.
She was having little success as a solo artiste however until Wagoner persuaded her to record Jimmie Rodger’s ‘Mule Skinner. Blues’ which made it to No 3, followed closely in February 1971, by her first number-one single, ‘Joshua’.
Although her solo singles and the Wagoner duets were successful, her biggest hit of this period was ‘Jolene’ which topped the country chart in February 1974 and gave her first U.K. success.
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