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Dolly Parton

Superstar Dolly Parton joins us to talk music and where she’s found meaning in life.

Dolly Parton speaks at The 22nd Annual Glaad Media Awards on Sunday April 10, 2011, at at The Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP)

Dolly Parton speaks at The 22nd Annual Glaad Media Awards on Sunday April 10, 2011, at at The Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, Calif. (AP)

Singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, superstar Dolly Parton is as big as they come in entertainment careers.  100 million records sold.  Dozens of gold and platinum songs.  Country fame.  Pop fame.  Hollywood.  Dollywood.

She’s got an outsized, chart-topping personality, a sharp business eye, and a deep, soulful streak she traces back to the Smoky Mountains.  Now she’s talking life advice.

This hour, On Point:  a conversation with the one and only Dolly Parton.

-Tom Ashbrook


Dolly Parton, singer-songwriter, actress, and author. Her new book is Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You.

From Tom’s Reading List

ABC NewsDolly Parton is a country music superstar whose own dreams took her from a small town in Tennessee to the highest levels of music and acting success. In her new book, “Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You,” Parton reveals how she achieved such success and how others can too, advising people to “Dream More,” “Learn More,” “Care More” and “Do More.” Parton’s book is based on a 2009 commencement address she gave at the University of Tennessee that became a YouTube sensation.”


Check out Dolly Parton’s classic tune.


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  • ttajtt

    Love Is Like A Butterfly.

  • WardCheney

    A laugh and a smile this morning when I heard Dolly Parton will be on the show. Her CD Little Sparrow is in the stereo right now, and has been for the last two days. Heard her live in Hanover, NH, of all places, thirty years ago. From the outside at least, a solid, fun, over-the-top, cards-on-the-table musician.

  • Gregg Smith

    Years ago I played in a band that performed at Dollywood fairly often. We would usually sub for the theater show when the production cast and crew needed a break. I am pretty sure we are the only band to ever ride a Harley on to that stage. It’s really cool what they do with music, it’s almost like Broadway. I know many musicians, actors and technicians in East TN who rely on those jobs. It’s great to have such a top notch venue and steady work for Bohemians in the hills.

    We happened to be playing there once when Dolly was also there. We were told by our management to lay low and not intrude backstage. I complied, our drummer didn’t. She was completely gracious and our lucky drummer has the pictures to prove it.

    Thanks Dolly.

    • Mike_Card

      I missed the broadcast–will listen to the re-run this afternoon.  Was wondering if anything would be said about Porter Wagoner.

      • Gregg Smith

        I missed it too but I’m sure he got a mention. 

    • Mike_Card

      Well, just caught the reference; wow!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Will_Always_Love_You

  • RolloMartins

    Dolly, as popular and successful as she is, isn’t taken seriously by many. She should be. As talented, smart, and gracious a person as ever sang on a stage. Her songwriting is without peer. Kudos for having her on. Her blue grass is top notch.

  • JennaJennaeight

    My nine-year-old daughter loves you, Dolly!  There’s no cynicism, no irony in her voice whether she’s singing or speaking.  Truly, a great lady.

  • ann neely

    Gracious is the best word I can think of to describe the brilliant Dolly Parton. I was in a luncheon of 100 wealthy Tennesseans when the governor introduced the Imagination Library/Books from Birth Program for the State. As Dolly entered the room to a standing ovation, she only shook one hand (other than the Governor’s). On the way to the podium, Dolly stopped to shake the hand of one of the servers who had been clearing the tables. What a fabulous example to all!

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    Ask Dolly about the value of libraries.  We have a library in the fight for its life.

  • Mischa Shattuck

    I grew up listening to Dolly Parton as she is my family’s favorite, so imagine my surprise as I was riding on the back of a truck in rural Sierra Leone last September and the driver put on “The Very Best of Dolly Parton”.  Turns out that all 5 of the Sierra Leonianes I was with AND the 4 Europeans all knew her music.  We sang along to the album for hours as we bounced around the dirt roads of West Africa.  

  • pmrodi

    4 years ago a film crew from Los Angeles came to Nashville to shoot the Hannah Montana movie. At some point the arrogant 1′st Assistant Director started dishing out his per-conceived notions about the south and eventually ended up on the subject of Dolly Parton. My fellow film technician (a very tall grip named Tad who still works for Dolly every year she does commercials at “Dollywood”) started listening to the disparaging remarks spewing from the AD. When the AD finally stopped talking, Tad was lording over him and asked him if any of the stars he knew in Los Angeles were making an effort to give every child in their state a book to read every month, for free! It sucked all the air out of the room and was a fine teaching moment for everyone!

  • cindylou12

    I have been trying to get in touch with Dolly for the last several years.  My dear friend, Irene was a close friend with Dolly and I would like to reunite them.  Dolly if you do read this, please give Irene a call… Thank you so much, Cynthia

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7QBIUWWKNO3EAZ7IRMP54NMHFE TimMCahill

    I just LOVE Dolly!  She sounds like such a sweet, open, and honest person.  We need more like her everywhere.

  • carl_christian

    Trying to answer Tom’s question about where Dolly Parton fits in my own scheme of things, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama come to mind –she exudes the same wonderfully mischievous and infectious love of life and respect for each and all that those two splendid human beings provide for us all. I vote for them to guide the world as co-presidents. Maybe via a UN charter or Twitter referendum?

  • commonman49

    Come on Tom, did you really say Whitney Houston made the song “I’ll Always Love You” famous?  !! You are showing your ignorance. That song (and the movie) has been “famous” for decades.  Where were you?

  • RolloMartins

    Dolly’s an angel: heck, she sings like one, acts like one too. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kate.m.chaffin.9 Kate McClernon Chaffin

    Dolly is truly an inspiration. Her feminist ideologies and beauty are just a small part of what makes her so unique. She is a saint and the love that she has for everyone touches me to my very core. Never has anyone had that kind of soul. We are all so fortunate that she was born.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/BethH.NC Elizabeth A. Hardin

    As much as I like your show, Tom, this is the first time I’ve been compelled to comment.  A number of your segment introductions asked, no doubt rhetorically, whether sophisticated people, young people, public radio listeners should heed the wisdom of a “uneducated,” flamboyant, Southern, female country music star.  As a middle-aged, Harvard-educated, senior officer of a university, let me say, “Absolutely.”  Dolly Parton is talented, entrepreneurial, faithful, and generous.  The commenter’s image of Dolly with Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama is right on target; all three are radiant.  Thanks for a great show.

  • pjm19606

    Just want to say that Dolly is one of those special people who is not afraid to live her life with her heart on her sleeve. So many of us, myself included, wear a mask throughout our lives. I have never seen Dolly wear one!

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Thanks for all the great videos !

  • http://www.facebook.com/cindy.lovell Cindy Lovell

    Dolly’s message to DREAM is important and should be encouraged. I admire her grit and determination, her generous spirit, and her good nature.  No one could accomplish so much without big dreams and hard work – and that second part is important.  She’s a great role model, because she didn’t just buy lottery tickets and dream about winning – she worked hard to achieve her dreams.  That is admirable and inspirational.  She also helps others along the way.  You can hear her on Carl Jackson’s “Livin’, Lovin’, Losin: Songs of the Louvin Brothers” tribute album, on songs with Rhonda Vincent, Emmylou Harris, and on many other projects with other singers.  Generosity seems to be a common thread for so many of these folks. Carl produced “Mark Twain: Words & Music” as a benefit for the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal, and Emmylou and Rhonda joined him on the project (along with Jimmy Buffett, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Clint Eastwood, Vince Gill and other generous and talented people).  There are so many great stories that never get shared.  These people who are rich and famous could keep it all for themselves, but a few of them always seem to be giving back, giving back, giving back – to their fans, to causes they believe in, to up and coming artists.  It’s nice to hear a positive story like this!  I look forward to reading Dolly’s book.  I truly enjoyed hearing this interview.

  • jimoonan

    Great show, great interview! This was not the first time that the words and thoughts and spiritual point of view of Dolly Parton has stopped me dead in my tracks and given me deep inspiration. This woman speaks with great wisdom and simplicity about the way life is and should be lived. I’m not much of a country music fan, but I would listen to Dolly Parton day and night because of the goodness that pours out of her.

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