As I was growing up, my family went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee every chance we got. We would make the three-hour trek through the Great Smoky Mountains whether it was Thanksgiving break or just because my great-aunt and uncle were getting a cabin for the weekend. Every trip we devoted an entire day to go to Dollywood. Dollywood is the amusement park that Ms. Dolly Parton first opened in 1961 as Rebel Road; it was eventually reopened and named Dollywood in 1986. Her amusement park has 27 rides, including anything from major roller coasters (such as Wild Eagle, Tennessee Tornado, and Mystery Mine) to kiddy rides in the Country Fair part of the amusement park. In addition to rides, the park has daily shows such as Christmas in the Smokies, Dreamland Drive-in, and Country Cross Roads. The park also has some of the best food you might ever eat. I always remember hearing Dolly Parton’s singing throughout the amusement park or taking a tour through her magnificent tour bus. The amusement park is a wonderful way to experience the impact Dolly has made and the happiness she chooses to bring to the world. She is a country idol especially in her small hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, and she is someone my family has adored every since I can remember.
Over the holiday break I overheard my grandmother and great-aunt excitedly discussing a new movie that was going to be airing on TV. The movie was Coat Of Many Colors, the life story of Dolly Parton. Every single person living in my house sat down the next night to watch the much-adored Dolly as a little child and learn the story of her coming to be. Though the movie first aired on December 10, 2015 and was supposed to be a one-time air on NBC, it received so many views that the channel decided to air it again on Christmas day. Coat of Many Colors tells the story of Dolly’s “rags to rhinestones” childhood and shows how it is not about how much you own in life but who you spend life with. After the movie ended and all my family was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over it, I started to realize how much of an influence she is to all people.
Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946 as the fourth of twelve children. She grew up in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains and started singing at an early age. Robert Lee Parton was Dolly’s father and he was a sharecropper. Dolly believed even though she did not have riches in life she had the riches of love and her family. Her grandfather was a Presbyterian preacher and so she would perform at her church starting at an early age, and at age twelve she would end up appearing for her first time at the Grand Ole Opry. At 13, Dolly started recording for a small label and performing at the Grand Ole Opry regularly. She would end up having more than twenty number one hits.
By her mid-twenties, Dolly made her road to fame a success. Her song “Joshua” had hit the Billboard's number one and she was considered a country superstar. In the ‘80s, she would record her first crossover song, ”Here You Come Again.” Some of her most noted crossovers were “9 to 5,” “Jolene,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Eventually, Dolly became one of the most noted country-to-pop crossover stars and a familiar name in every house across America. Dolly started doing movies in the ‘80s, too. She thought that it would be fun to try out acting and, of course, she was a beauty at it. Some of her most famous movies were 9 to 5 (for which the hit song of the same name was writtern), Steel Magnolias, and Joyful Noise, to name but a few.
Throughout the years Dolly has won Grammys, Academy Awards, and many honorary titles. She has seven Grammy awards, which include “9 to 5” as Best Country song in 1982 and “Here You Come Again” as Best Country Vocal Performance in 1979. She won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2011 and even received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tennessee, where she gave the commencement speech in 2009.
These days, Dolly Parton is focusing on her new movie release, Coat of Many Colors, her most recent albums The Collection and Blue Smoke, and her opening of her new hotel (based on her childhood home) DreamMore in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dolly believes that the front porch is a place where families can come together, so that’s why every room in the hotel has a front porch and rocking chairs. What’s more, Dolly created a program where kids can get books mailed to them monthly. She started this program because she wanted kids to have the luxuries she didn’t have as a kid; growing up, Dolly did not have books and her dad was unable to read or write.
We started loving Dolly Parton more than fifty years ago and continue to love her music and her entertainment. My mother grew up on her music, and now, so have I. Dolly uses her fame and money to make a real difference for the people of Appalachia. She wanted to bring jobs and other ways to fight poverty in her little mountain town, and she has done that with Dollywood and with her charity. She is a sparkling woman who lights up wherever she goes and has made her Southern mark on this world.
Lainey England is a sixteen-year-old dual enrollment student who attends Johnson High School and is fully enrolled at the University of North Georgia. She currently lives in Lula, Georgia. She is very supported by her parents, Amy and Tommy England. Her future endeavors include graduating high school and college, going to law school, and one day becoming President of the United States. She hopes to one day help make a change in the world. In her free time, she enjoys binging on Netflix shows, blogging, winning at TopGolf, and napping. When she grows up she wants to be Olivia Pope.
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