Credit: Curtis Hilbun
Perhaps the most well-known female songwriter in the world, Dolly Parton grew up as a poor child in rural Tennessee. She learned to sing and play instruments in church and later went on to perform on radio and television programs. Parton moved to Nashville after graduating high school, where she started her songwriting career. She had a string of successful duets after being signed to a recording contract but eventually found her own success as a solo artist.
Parton was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has won nine Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, three American Music Awards, and seven Academy of Country Music awards. For her work in Hollywood, she’s been nominated for two Academy awards, a Tony award, and an Emmy award. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received the Kennedy Center Honors.
In addition to her success as a singer and songwriter, she is a savvy businesswoman. Since she retains the publishing rights to her songs, she has done well with royalties, even denying Elvis Presley half of the rights when he wanted to record one of her songs. She owns the Dollywood theme park and Dreammore Resort, Dixie Stampede, and other entertainment businesses. Parton also donates to charities in East Tennessee, developing a literacy program, and supported the community after fires devastated the Great Smoky Mountains in 2016. She also worked as an actress in the films Steel Magnolias, 9 to 5, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
From: Sevierville, Tennessee
Influences: Loretta Lynn
Favorite Tracks: “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5”
Discography: Parton has released over 42 studio albums in her career, including Hello, I’m Dolly (1967), Just Because I’m a Woman (1968), My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973), Jolene (1974), and The Grass Is Blue (1999).
If You Like: Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire
Genre: Country, bluegrass, gospel