Dolly Rebecca Parton
(born January 19, 1946)
is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress, and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music. She has composed over 3,000 songs, the best known of which include "I Will Always Love You" (a two-time U.S. country chart-topper for Parton, as well as an international pop hit for Whitney Houston), "Jolene", "Coat of Many Colors", "9 to 5", and "My Tennessee Mountain Home". As an actress, she starred in the movies 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias, Gnomeo & Juliet, Straight Talk, Unlikely Angel, and Joyful Noise. She is one of the most successful female country artists of all time; with an estimated 100 million in album sales, Dolly Parton is also one of the best selling artists of all time. She is known as The Queen of Country Music.
She was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children of Robert Lee Parton, a tobacco farmer, and his wife Avie Lee (Owens). She has described her family as "dirt poor". She outlined her family's poverty in her early songs "Coat of Many Colors" and "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)". They lived in a rustic, one-room cabin in Locust Ridge, just north of the Greenbrier Valley, in the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevier County, a predominantly Pentecostal area.
Music played an important role in her early life, and her grandfather was a Pentecostal "holy-roller" preacher. When appearing in live concerts, she frequently performs spiritual songs.
Dolly Parton began performing as a child, singing on local radio and television programs in the Eastern Tennessee area. By age nine, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At thirteen, she was recording (the single "Puppy Love") on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. It was at the Opry that she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to go where her heart took her and not to care what others thought. The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville taking many traditional elements of folklore and popular music from East Tennessee with her.
Parton's initial success came as a songwriter, writing two top ten hits with her uncle Bill Owens: Bill Phillips's "Put it off Until Tomorrow" and Skeeter Davis' 1967 hit "Fuel to the Flame". She also wrote a minor chart hit for Hank Williams Jr during this period. She had signed with Monument Records in late 1965, where she was initially pitched as a bubblegum pop singer, earning only one national-chart single, "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby", which did not crack the Billboard Hot 100.
The label agreed to let Parton sing country music after her composition, "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," as recorded by Bill Phillips (and with Parton, uncredited, on harmony), went to number six on the country music charts in 1966. Her first country single, "Dumb Blonde" (one of the few songs during this era, that she recorded but did not write), reached number twenty-four on the country music charts in 1967, followed the same year with Something Fishy, which went to number seventeen. The two songs anchored her first full-length album, Hello, I'm Dolly.
On May 30, 1966, she and Carl Thomas Dean ( September 12, 1945 (age 67) in Nashville, Tennessee) were married in Ringgold, Georgia. She had met Dean at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat two years earlier on her first day in Nashville. His very first words to her were: "Y'all gonna get sunburnt out there, little lady."
Dean, who runs an asphalt road-surface-paving business in Nashville, has always shunned publicity and rarely accompanies her to any events. According to Parton, he has only ever seen her perform once. However, she has also commented in interviews that, although it appears they do not spend much time together, it is simply that nobody sees him. She also commented on Dean's romantic side claiming that he will often do spontaneous things to surprise her and sometimes even writes her poems.
The couple partly raised several of Parton's younger siblings at their home in Nashville, leading her nieces and nephews to refer to her as "Aunt Granny". She has no children of her own. Parton is also the godmother of actress and singer Miley Cyrus.
On May 30, 2011, they celebrated their 45th anniversary. Later, she said, "We're really proud of our marriage. It's the first for both of us. And the last."