Dolly Parton is an American country singer, songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist whose net worth is estimated at $500 million. A veteran in the music industry, with over 6 decades of activity, Dolly has shown no signs of slowing down, releasing new music and touring the world. Here’s more on the I-Will-Always-Love-You songstress and how she’s built her music empire over the years.
Her Early Life
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19, 1946, in Sevier County, Tennessee. Dolly was born as the 4th child in a family of 12 that grew up very poor in a one-room cabin in Locust Ridge – a story she later narrated in her “Coats of Many Colors” song. A granddaughter to pastor Jake Robert Owens who pastored the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee, Dolly has five sisters namely Stella Parton, Racheal Dennison, Willadeen Parton, Cassie Nan Parton, and Freida Estella Parton. She also has six brothers including Robert Lee Parton Jr, Larry Parton, Floyd Parton, Coy Denver, David Wilborn, and Randy Parton.
If you'd told me back then the girl on the left would turn into the person on the right, I would've though you were crazy! But I'm so grateful for it all. Where I came from, and where I've been. 😊 pic.twitter.com/oEHnhkEvN9
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) July 10, 2018
Dolly at the age of 6 began singing in the church choir. Her passion for music grew beyond vocals as she included the strings, and after years of playing a homemade guitar, she received a real guitar as a gift from her uncle at the age of 8. She also began writing her own songs. At the age of 10, she began performing in local radio stations in Knoxville Eastern Tennessee. At 13 she signed her very first record deal with Goldband Records, a small Louisiana label, and the same year she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Dolly’s passion for music only grew by the year and immediately after she graduated from high school in 1964, she moved to Nashville in search of greener pastures.
Dolly Parton’s Music Success and Achievements
Dolly on reaching Nashville signed a pact with Combine Publishing. She first found success as a songwriter, penning lyrics for already accomplished acts some of which peaked on the Billboard charts. At 19 she signed with Monument Records and began recording singles which initially were not successful until she featured on a Bill Phillips single. Her singles “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy,” which featured on the charts paved the way for her imminent breakthrough.
The release of her debut full-length album “Hello, I’m Dolly” gained her prominence as she attracted the attention of fellow country singer Porter Wagoner who invited her to appear on his eponymous TV show which was weekly syndicated. Wagoner and Dolly sang a few duets which peaked on the country charts and in 1968 they were named the “Vocal Group of the Year” by the “Country Music Association”. With Wagoner’s help, Parton signed a recording deal with RCA records. Although her duets with Wagoner were successful, Parton struggled with her solo career until she recorded Jimmie Rodgers’s “Mule Skinner Blues” on Wagoner’s suggestion.
Dolly Parton’s solo career took a new turn with the single “Joshua” released in 1971 which became her first #1 hit on the country charts. Next up was “Coat of Many Colors” which peaked at #4. In 1973 she landed another #1 hit with “Jolene” which also debuted on the UK charts.
Parton recorded yet another #1 hit “I Will Always Love You” in 1974, a song that has become widely known as her signature song. She re-recorded it in 1984 as a soundtrack for the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and again it reached #1 on the charts, making Dolly the only musician in history to top the charts twice with the same song. Dolly has earned millions in royalties from the song like in 1992 when Whitney Houston recorded it for the soundtrack of the movie “The Bodyguard”. The song became an instant hit, selling over 12 million copies worldwide and Dolly reportedly made over $10 million from Whitney’s version.
Dolly enjoyed much success as a chart staple throughout the ’70s and ’80s. She has also enjoyed moderate success from the pop genre. Dolly has sold over 100 million of her works worldwide and over 40 of her albums have topped the Country charts. In addition to selling records, Parton has earned millions from extensive tours. Her most successful tour was the 2011 Better Day World Tour which grossed over $34 million.
She has been nominated for Grammy Awards a record of 46 times, winning 8. She has also been inducted into over a dozen Halls of Fame. In 2016, Dolly Parton’s album “Pure & Simple” debuted atop the country charts becoming her first #1 album in 25 years. Between 2015 and 2016 Forbes estimated her earnings at $19 million making her the 13th Highest-Paid Country musician In The World. But recently, her wealth is said to be fast increasing. She is estimated to have a net worth of about $500 Million.
A Quick Look at Her Best Songs
Dolly’s music career which started in 1956 has spanned over half a century. In these years, the talented musician has recorded numerous successful songs that have also won her numerous awards. Some of these songs include:
- “Coat of Many Colors” in 1971
- “Jolene” in 1974
- “I Will Always Love You” in 1974
- “Here You Come Again” in 1977
- “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” in 1977
- “But You Know I Love You” in 1980
- “9 to 5” in 1980
- “Islands in the Stream” in 1983
- “Two Doors Down” in 1987
- “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That” in 1989
Dolly has Over 100 Awards
Dolly has won more than 100 awards from over 20 distinguished awarding bodies in recognition of her talent and works in the entertainment industry. These awards have come from institutions such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Broadcast Music, Inc., Broadway.com Audience Awards, and others.
- Academy of Country Music Awards
Dolly was first nominated for an award at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 1969 as a top female vocalist. However, she ended up not winning the award but more than 5 decades later, she has won over 10 ACM awards from 43 nominations.
- Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner Top Vocal Group, 1970
- Entertainer of the Year, 1977
- Top Female Vocalist, 1980
- Top Vocal Duet – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, 1983
- Single Record of the Year shared with Kenny Rogers – Islands in the Stream – 1983
- Album of the Year shared with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris – Trio, 1987
- Vocal Event of the Year shared with Brad Paisley – When I Get Where I’m Going, 2005
- Video of the Year shared with Brad Paisley – When I Get Where I’m Going, 2005
- Cliffe Stone Pioneer Award – Dolly Parton, 2006
- Jim Reeves International Award – Dolly Parton, 2008
- Tex Ritter Film Award – Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours, 2015
- Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award – Dolly Parton, 2017
- American Music Awards
The Tennessee-born musician has won a total of 3 American Music Awards from about 15 nominations. Her wins include:
- Favorite Country Album – New Harvest, First Gathering, 1978
- Favorite Country Single – “Islands In The Stream” 1984
- Favorite Country Single – “Tennessee Homesick Blues” 1985
- BMI Awards
Eversince she was nominated for her first Broadcast Music, Inc. award, Dolly has won every award nomination she stood up for. They include:
- Country Award – “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” (performed by Bill Phillips) 1966
- Country Award – “Daddy Was An Old Time Preacherman” 1971
- Country Award – “Joshua” 1971
- Country Award – “The Last One To Touch Me” 1972
- Country Award and Pop Award “Jolene” 1974
- Country Award – “Traveling Man” 1974
- Country Award – “Love Is Like A Butterfly,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me,” and “Kentucky Gambler” (performed by Merle Haggard) all in 1975
- Country Award – “The Seeker,” “The Bargain Store,” and “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” in 1976
- Country Award – “All I Can Do” 1976
- Country Award – “Two Doors Down,” “Light Of A Clear Blue Morning” and “Two Doors Down” 1978
- Pop Award – “Two Doors Down” 1978
- Country Award – “Two Doors Down,” “Baby I’m Burning,” “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” 1979
- Pop Award – “Baby I’m Burning” 1979
- Country Award – “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” 1979
- Pop Award – “Baby I’m Burning” 1979
- Country Award, Pop Award, Pop Song of the Year, Country Song of the Year and Country Award – “9 To 5” 1981
- Pop Award (1982) and Country Award (1983) – “Heartbreak Express” and “I Will Always Love You”
- Country Award – “Everything’s Beautiful” 1983
- Country Award – “Tennessee Homesick Blues” 1985
- Pop Award and Pop Song of the Year – “I Will Always Love You” 1993
- Pop Award – “I Will Always Love You” 1993 and 1994
- Icon Award – Dolly Parton, 2003
- British Country Music Awards
Parton has won a total of 6 awards from the British CMA Awards.
- Female Vocalist of the Year in 1976, 77, 78,79, 80 and 2000
- Broadway.com Audience Awards
- Favorite New Broadway Song for “Get Out and Stay Out” in 2009
- Canadian Country Music Association Awards
Top Selling Album of the Year for Once Upon A Christmas (with Kenny Rogers) in 1985
- CMT Music Awards
Previously known as the Music City News Awards, TNN Awards, and Flameworthy Music Awards, Dolly has won many awards from nominations she has had. Her wins include:
- Vocal Duet, and Most Promising Female – Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, 1968, 69 and 70
- Television Series – The Porter Wagoner Show, 1971
- Vocal Duet – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, 1984
- Vocal Collaboration shared with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris – Trio, 1988
- Vocal Collaboration shared with Ricky Van Shelton – Rockin’ Years, 1992
- Music Video shared with Ricky Van Shelton – Rockin’ Years, 1992
- Vocal Event shared with Billy Ray Cyrus & Friends – Romeo, 1994
- Living Legend Award and Minnie Pearl Award in 1994
- Video Event of the Year shared with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris – After The Goldrush, 2000
- Country Music Association Awards
- The Country Music Association has recognized Dolly’s talent with 9 awards out of 44 nominations. Her earliest award from this organization dates back to 1968.
- Vocal Group of the Year, and Vocal Duo of the Year, – Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, 1968, 70 and 71
- Female Vocalist of the Year in 1975 and 76
- Entertainer of the Year in 1978
- Vocal Event of the Year – the trio of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt in 1988
- Vocal Event of the Year – “I Will Always Love You” (Dolly Parton with special guest Vince Gill), 1996
- Vocal Event of the Year – “When I Get Where I’m Going” (Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton), 2006
- Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016
- European Country Music Association Awards
Dolly has won a total of 3 awards from the ECMA
- Female Vocalist of the Year in 2001
- Vocal Collaboration of the Year – “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (with Roy Rivers) in 2006
- Indie Album of the Year – Backwoods Barbie in 2008.
- Grammy Awards
Dolly has won many awards from The Recording Academy of the United States beginning from 1979 when she won the Best Country Vocal Performance, Female for her song Here You Come Again. Below is a comprehensive list of her Grammy Awards:
- Best Country Vocal Performance, Female for Here You Come Again in 1979
- Best Country Vocal Performance, Female and Best Country Song for “9 to 5” in 1982
- Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group – Trio (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt)
- Best Country Vocal Collaboration – “After the Gold Rush” (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt) in 2000
- Best Bluegrass Album for The Grass Is Blue in 2001
- Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Shine” in 2002
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011
- Best Country Duo/Group Performance – “Jolene” (Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton) in 2017
- MusiCares Person of the Year in 2019
- Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “God Only Knows” (For King & Country and Dolly Parton) in 2020
- International Bluegrass Music Awards
Professional members of the Bluegrass Music Association deemed Dolly Parton deserving of the following awards
- Album of the Year for The Grass Is Blue in 2000
- Recorded Event of the Year with Ralph Stanley for Clinch Mountain Sweethearts in 2002
- International Country Gospel Music Association
In the Christian music genre, Dolly has an award from the oldest of all Christian country music organizations – the International Country Gospel Music Association (ICGMA).
- Single of the Year for “Hello God” in 2003.
- People’s Choice Awards
The American singer and multi-instrumentalist has won a total of 3 awards from a total of 6 nominations.
- Favorite Song from a Motion Picture for “9 to 5” in 1981
- Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program for Dolly in 1988
- Favorite All-Around Female Entertainer for Dolly Parton in 1988
- Nashville Songwriters Association International Awards
Dolly has won a total of 14 awards from the Nashville Songwriters Association International which is a non-profit organization that rewards songwriters.
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” (performed by Bill Phillips) in 1968
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Daddy Was An Old Time Preacherman” in 1971
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Coat of Many Colors” in 1972
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Jolene” in 1974 and 75
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Love Is Like A Butterfly” and “Kentucky Gambler” (performed by Merle Haggard) in 1975
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “The Seeker” in 1976
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Two Doors Down” in 1979
- Songwriter Achievement Award for 9 To 5″ in 1982
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “Eagle When She Flies” in 1991
- Songwriter Achievement Award for “I Will Always Love You” (performed by Whitney Houston) in 1992, a duet with Vince Gill in 1995, and performance by Whitney Houston in 2012.
Dolly Parton’s Businesses and Hollywood Success
Parton has also found enormous success in the movie industry beginning in the 1970s. Following her mentor Wagoner, she started with her own variety TV show Dolly! which successfully lasted for a season. Her first acting role came in the 1980 comedy film “9 to 5” of which she also wrote and recorded the soundtrack. The film went on to gross $103 million worldwide. Some of her other movies include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), and Steel Magnolias (1989). For her acting career, Dolly has earned two Academy Award nominations.
Parton inked a multi-year deal with NBC to adopt her songs into made for TV films. The first of them “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” aired on NBC in 2015. The movie which recorded over 16 million viewers became the most-watched TV movie in years.
In 1986, Dolly in a bid to provide jobs for people in her native Pigeon Forge, Tennessee opened The Dollywood Theme Park. Dollywood records over 3 million visitors each year and is the 24th most visited park in the United States. Among her other businesses in Tennessee include Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, a Dinner theatre, a resort hotel, and the waterpark Dollywood’s Splash Country.
She also owns the production company Dixie Pixie Productions. In June 2015 her The Dollywood company bought Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from Rob Scheer.
Dolly Parton is also actively involved in various charity projects through her Dollywood Foundation. She primarily aims at childhood education.
A Breakdown of Her Net Worth and Career Earnings
The septuagenarian who was named Forbes’ highest-earning country music artist in 2017 with an earning of $37 million is now worth about $500 million. Dolly has been in the entertainment industry professionally for well over 60 fruitful years. In these years, Dolly has earned from her singing career where she has sold over 100 million records and counting worldwide; acting – with appearances in Aunt Dolly on Disney’s Hannah Montana, etc, multiple endorsement deals as well as earnings from her businesses one of which is Dollywood Company.
Some of Her Notable Earnings from Music
The bulk of Dolly’s earnings have come mostly from her music career. Some of her most notable earnings from music include her $10 million royalty from “I Will Always Love You”, her music tours one of which is her $34million earnings from her 2011 “Better Day” where almost 275,000 tickets were sold.
Top Box Office Films
Though the exact amount the songstress has made individually from some of her movie roles is not publicly available, it’s however known that she has made over $300million from acting. Some of her most successful films include “Straight Talk,” “Rhinestone,” “9 to 5” which made about $103.3million at the box office.
Dollywood Company and Other Businesses
One of Dolly’s investments through the Dollywood Company is the Dollywood theme park which she co-owns and invested about $300million into. The park which is located in her hometown, Pigeon Forge, East Tennessee, opened to the public in 2011 and now sees over 3 million visitors yearly. It has also been recognized as the 24th most visited theme park in America. From its ticket sales of $67 per adult, the park is projected to be making about $5,025,000,000 in gross profit yearly.
The ace musician also has a movie production company named Dixie Pixie productions. The company produced highly successful works like
- Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors (2015 TV Movie),
- Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (2016 TV Movie),
- Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings (2019– ) Episode: Jolene (2019) and others.
Aside from these two ventures, Dolly has numerous other business investments she co-owns under her Dollywood Company like
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede – a dinner theater,
- Dollywood’s Splash Country which is a water park, and
- Dream More Resort and Spa
She Spends on Luxury and Charities
The country music star owns and has lived in a couple of homes which include her Willow Lake Plantation which is on a 63-acre lot in Brentwood, Tennessee where she currently lives. Before now, she lived in a 4,795-square-foot house in Glencliff Road, Nashville for 16 years, and also the The Tennessee “Smoky” Mountain Home which was her childhood home.
With regards to her automobiles, Parton drove her 1997 Cadillac D’Elegance for about a decade before she gave it out to be exhibited at the Hollywood Stars Car Collection in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Afterwards, she purchased a new Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.
Dolly has invested back to the community in various ways. For example, she set up The Imagination Library in 1995 which send books for free to children from the time they were born to the time they enroll in school at no cost.
— Imagination Library (@dollyslibrary) February 13, 2013
She also set up The Dollywood Foundation which funded The Buddy Program aimed at curtailing the high rate of school dropouts in her home county in 1998, and in 2016, she opened the My People Fund to assuage the sufferings of families who lost their homes to wildfire. By 2017, the organization also donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital in Nashville.
Dolly Parton Met Her Husband as a Teenager
- Full Name: Carl Thomas Dean
- Date of Birth: July 20, 1942
- Birth Place: Nashville, Tennesse, USA
- Occupation: Businessperson (owned an asphalt-laying company in Nashville in the 70s)
- Marital Status: Married
- Spouse: Dolly Parton
- Number of Children: None
The American legend, Dolly is not just successful in her career as a songwriter and singer, she is also counted as one of the famous celebrities whose marriages have been a success. Dolly met her heartthrob at the Wishy-Washy laundromat in Nashville. She was 18 years at the time while Carl was 21. Actually, it was Parton’s first visit to Nashville having relocated from Sevierville, Tennessee. The two caught the eyes of each other and felt they wanted to spend their lives together. Dean revealed on their 50th wedding anniversary that his life began the day he set his eyes on Dolly.
Two years after they met (she was 20, and Dean, 23), Dolly Parton and her beloved husband Carl Thomas Dean got married on May 30, 1966, in a clandestine ceremony in Ringgold, Georgia which had in attendance, the officiating preacher – Don Duvall, Parton’s mom, Avie Lee, and the couple to be married. This was so because Dolly’s record label – Monument – felt Dolly’s marriage would impede the growth of her music career. However, Parton knew better and decided to get married to the love of her life without waiting.
In her bold confession about her love story and why it has lasted for decades despite marital storms, Dolly confirmed that her longtime relationship with Dean has been one of her most treasured. Though he is a private person and publicity-shy, Dolly has also learned to deal with it, accepting that every marriage deserves its fair share of privacy, no matter the fame of one of the spouses or both.
The Couple Tried Unsuccessfully to Get Pregnant Severally
With her career and marriage spanning over 50 years, Dolly and Dean still have no child of their own. While explaining why their marriage has not been blessed with a child, Dolly said she believes that it was God’s plan for her not to have children. She also added that perhaps, it was so she could be a mother to “every child”. Dolly founded Imagination Library back in 1995 so she could provide free books to kids from the time they’re born until they start kindergarten.
She disclosed that they talked about having children when they were dating and even had names for their kids already figured out. One of such names would have been Carla if they had a daughter who will be named after her husband- Carl. Continuing, she explained that for a long time, they were not worried about having children but as her career kept growing, they felt she should have some birth control pill for some time and not worry about it anymore. Afterward, she didn’t have a baby even when they were trying and not trying. Despite being childless, the couple still loves each other and is evident for all to see.
|Also Known As:||Aunt Granny, Backwood babie, Queen of Nashville,
the Iron butterfly
|Profession:||singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author, businesswoman|
|Famous For:||country music|
|Educational Qualifications:||2 Honorary doctorate degrees from University of Tennessee and Carson-Newman College|
|Birthday & Zodiac
|Age/Date of Birth:||January 19, 1946|
|Birth Place:||Pittman Center, Tennessee, U.S|
|Ethnicity/Race:||English, Scottish, Irish, German, Welsh, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish|
|Country of Residence: ||United States of America (USA)|
|Height:||5feet (1.52 m)|
|Other Body Measurements:||Breast Size: 41 inches (104 cm)
Waist Size: 25 inches (64 cm)
Hips Size: 38 inches (97 cm)
|Spouse/Partner:||Carl Thomas Dean (m. 1966)|
|Family and Relatives
|Father:||Robert Lee Parton|
|Mother:||Avie Lee Owens|
Rachel Dennison, Willadeene Parton, Robert Lee Parton Jr., Floyd Parton, Cassie Nan Parton, Coy
Larry Gerald Parton, Freida Estelle Parton, David Wilburn Parton
|Other Relatives:||Timothy C. Rauhoff
Heidi Lou (Niece)
Bessie Rayfield(Grandmother)Walter Parton(Grandfather)
|Estimated Net Worth:||$500 million|
|Salary:||$37 million annually|
|Source of Wealth:||Album sales and tours|