Dolly Parton has had a remarkable career including music, acting, and entrepreneurship. She is one of only a few performers to receive nomination in all four major entertainment awards – the Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony. In 2004 the US Library of Congress gave her the distinguished Living Legend Award.
Dolly came from humble beginnings, one of twelve children born in East Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains. Her father was a sharecropper, tobacco farmer, and laborer. Her mother cared for the family, parenting the twelve children by the age of 35. The family was very poor – her father paid for Dolly’s birth with a sack of cornmeal.
She began performing as a child on radio in Knoxville and as soon as she graduated from high school she moved to Nashville. Initially the label that signed her wanted a bubblegum pop singer, but when she performed uncredited on a Bill Phillips country song and it hit the top 10, they relented and let her record country music. Her first single reached the top 25.
Parton began a long and successful musical partnership with Porter Wagoner in 1967 and for almost six years every single they released rose to number one. Even more successful was her solo career – especially the 1973 song Jolene, which placed her on the pop charts for the first time. In the mid 70s she transitioned to pop music, with some uneven results.
The 80s saw her return to country music in a big way and from there she added in bluegrass recordings. Over the decades she has established herself in movies and television, especially with the award winning movie 9 to 5. Her business ventures are focused primarily on ventures around her home region, the Smoky Mountains. Most notable is Dollyworld, a theme park in Pigeon Forge.
Dolly Parton is one of the most awarded country musicians of all time. Twenty-six singles reached number 1 and she has released 42 top 10 country albums. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.