Dolly Parton urges fans to ‘keep the faith’ amid pandemic
Dolly Parton is about to turn 75 years old, but she is still going strong in the music industry. She released a Christmas album and a movie in 2020, while also collaborating on Barry Gibb’s new album. Despite there being no signs of slowing down, fans can look back on her career – so when did she start?
Dolly Parton’s arrival on the scene was fairly quiet, with her taking a few years to really have her start.
A 10-year-old Dolly sang on local radio in Tennessee, and performed around her hometown and neighbouring counties.
At 13 years old she performed at the Grand Ole Opry, an important country music venue in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here, she met Johnny Cash, who introduced her and encouraged her to continue performing.
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He said: “We’ve got a little girl here from up in East Tennessee.
“Her daddy’s listening to the radio at home and she’s gonna be in real trouble if she doesn’t sing tonight, so let’s bring her out here.”
Her first single came before this, and it was written by the singer.
Puppy Love was written by Dolly along with her Uncle Bill Owens, and was released by Goldband Records in 1959, when she was just 11 years old.
In the song, Dolly sang about the emotions of young love, and also wrote a second song, Girl Left Alone, which was the B-side to Puppy Love.
Dolly recorded the songs in Lake Charles, Louisiana, after a 30-hour bus trip to the studio with her grandmother, Rena Owens.
Speaking about that time, she said: “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way the inside of that bus smelled.
“It was a combination of diesel fuel, Naugahyde, and people who were going places.”
While this song was her first, at a very young age, Dolly’s real stardom came when she became a regular on The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967.
He was the inspiration behind one of her biggest hits, I Will Always Love You, which is about the time when Dolly wanted to leave the show and struggled with these emotions.
She said to CMT in 2011: “There was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn’t listening to my reasoning for my going.
“I thought, ‘Well, why don’t you do what you do best? Why don’t you just write this song?’…
“So I went home and out of a very emotional place in me at that time, I wrote the song, ‘I Will Always Love You’.”
She returned home and played it to Porter, and it was the first time he was able to understand how she truly felt.
She left him and began a solo career away from the show, despite having released solo records while working with him.
Throughout the rest of the 1970s and 1980s she performed pop-country, moving back to more bluegrass songs in her later years.
She also tried her hand at acting, performing in movies like 9 to 5, Rhinestone and Steel Magnolias.
Most recently, Dolly has appeared in Netflix Christmas specials, with the platform recently releasing her latest movie, Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, which accompanied her album Holly Dolly Christmas.
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