Dolly Parton: A Country Music Icon at 75

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Dolly Parton is one of the most iconic country music artists of all time. She’s been making music for over 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down. In honor of her 75th birthday, let’s take a look at her life and career.

Dolly Parton’s Early Life

Dolly Parton was born on January 19th, 1946, in a small town in Tennessee called Locust Ridge. She was one of 12 children born into a poor family. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother was a homemaker. Parton’s father could not afford to send all of his children to school, so Dolly only attended school for a couple of years. When she was just seven years old, she started working in the fields with her father.

Parton’s humble beginnings in rural Tennessee

Parton was born on January 19, 1946, one of 12 children born to Avie Lee Owens and Robert Lee Parton, who were poor sharecroppers of Scots-Irish descent. The family later bought a plot of land where they built a three-room house. Music was an important part of life in the Parton household; both parents played multiple instruments, and the children all sang hymns and mountain ballads around the family’s potbellied stove.

Parton’s maternal grandfather, Levi W. Owens, had fought in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was later a Pentecostal preacher. Her father owned a jukebox, and music was often played in their home; Parton has credited her father with helping to shape her musical style. When she was seven years old, her uncle bought her a wind-up Victrola phonograph; she would often spend afternoons listening to country music records and singing along.

Parton began writing songs at an early age; by the time she was seven, she had composed her first song, “Puppy Love.” She began performing with country music stars like Carl Perkins and Porter Wagoner when she was still in her teens. She released her first album, Hello, I’m Dolly, in 1967, and it immediately topped the country music charts. Over the next decade, she would release a string of successful albums and singles; some of her most popular songs from this period include “9 to 5,” “Jolene,” and “I Will Always Love You.”

Parton’s musical influences

Dolly Parton’s music has been inspired by many different genres, including country, pop, gospel, and even rock. She has cited several different artists as her musical influences, including Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and The Beatles. Parton has also mentioned Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bill Monroe as being among her biggest musical influences.

Dolly Parton’s Career

Dolly Parton is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actress, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian, known primarily for her work in country music. Parton’s music includes 25 Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums. As of 2020, she has had 110 charted singles over the past 40 years.

Parton’s career highlights

Dolly Parton’s career began as a child performer on local television in Nashville, Tennessee. She went on to achieve great success as a country music singer and songwriter, with hits like “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “9 to 5.” In addition to her country music career, Parton has also appeared in films such as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Steel Magnolias.” In recent years, she has focused on her charitable work through the Dollywood Foundation, which provides educational resources to children in rural areas.

Parton’s songwriting

Dolly Parton’s career in country music has spanned more than 50 years. In that time, she has written more than 3,000 songs, including hits such as “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene,” and “9 to 5.”

Parton’s songs have been recorded by some of the biggest names in music, including Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, and Carrie Underwood. She has also won numerous awards for her work, including Grammys, CMAs, and even a Golden Globe.

Despite all her success, Parton remains humble and down-to-earth. She continues to write and perform new music, and she is currently working on a musical based on her life story. She is also an active philanthropist, supporting causes such as literacy and childhood cancer research.

Dolly Parton’s Legacy

Dolly Parton has been entertaining audiences for over 50 years. She is best known for her country music, but she has also dabbled in acting and songwriting. She has written over 3,000 songs, many of which have been hits. She is also a philanthropist, and she has her own theme park, Dollywood. Parton is one of the most successful female country music artists of all time, and she shows no signs of slowing down.

Parton’s charitable work

One of Parton’s most well-known philanthropic efforts is her work with the Dollywood Foundation, which she established in 1986. The foundation’s flagship program is the Imagination Library, a book-gifting organization that mails free books to registered children from birth until they begin kindergarten.

To date, the Imagination Library has shipped over 100 million books to children in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2015, Parton expanded the program globally through a partnership with her book publisher, Random House.

In addition to her work with the Imagination Library, Parton has also supported a number of other causes throughout her career. She is a longtime supporter of literacy initiatives and has donated money to schools and libraries. She has also given generously to disaster relief efforts, most notably after the September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Parton’s impact on country music

Dolly Parton is one of the most legendary and iconic figures in country music history. She has been entertaining audiences for over 50 years with her catchy songs, quick wit, and bubbly personality. Parton has had a profound influence on country music and its evolution over the years.

Parton’s career started when she was just a young girl growing up in the mountains of Tennessee. She began performing on local radio and television shows and quickly became a popular name in the country music world. Parton’s first big break came when she was asked to perform on The Porter Wagoner Show, a popular country music television show. She became a regular on the show and released her first album, Hello, I’m Dolly, in 1967.

Parton’s unique style of music and songwriting quickly made her a household name. She wrote hits like “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “Coat of Many Colors.” Parton’s abilities as a singer and songwriter caught the attention of Nashville record executives, and she soon signed with RCA Records. Her success continued to grow throughout the 1970s and 1980s with hit songs like “9 to 5” and “Here You Come Again.”

Parton’s impact on country music can be seen in both her songs and her personal life. She has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and equality throughout her career. In recent years, she has also become an important figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2006, Parton established the Dollywood Foundation, which provides financial assistance to children in need. The foundation has helped millions of children around the world through its various programs.

Parton is still going strong at age 75. She continues to release new music and perform live concerts all over the world. She is truly an icon of country music and an inspiration to all who know her story.

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