Celebrate Smoky Mountain Native and Country Music Icon Dolly Parton’s Birthday!
Happy birthday, Dolly Parton! The country music icon and a Sevier County native turns 76 today, Jan. 19, 2022.
Dolly Parton is one of the most honored music artists of all time. In 2021, People Magazine named her December’s person of the year. She was also featured on one of the four different Dec. 13 covers.
Some things you might not know about Dolly Parton:
Dolly Parton has had 25 songs reach Number 1 on the Billboard country charts – the most of any female artist. She’s had 42 career Top 10 country albums, a record for ANY artist. She’s also had 110 singles make the charts over the past 40 years in her career. With 25 of her albums certified as Gold, Platinum, or Multiplatinum, she’s had an impressive career in country music.
Parton is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for FIVE achievements, including three announced on Dec. 17, 2021: Most Decades with a Top 20 Hit and Most Hits on US Country Songs Charts by a Female Artist (109 total); most decades on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart by a female artist (seven); most No. 1 hits on that chart by a female artist (25).
First, for “9 to 5” (1980) and then for “Travelin Thru” (2005), Parton has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. . In 2020, she was the recipient of a Grammy award for her duet with For King & Country on the song God Only Knows.
A local philanthropist
Through her Dollywood Foundation, Dolly created Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995. Once a month, every month, Imagination Library mails a book to children from birth until they enter kindergarten. The foundation has grown substantially since that time, even expanding into Canada in 2006. In February 2018, Dolly was honored by the Library of Congress on account of the foundation mailing their 100 millionth book – which was her own children’s book “Coat of Many Colors” (2006).
It was donated to the Library of Congress. Her work in literacy has earned her numerous awards. Dolly was even awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Tennessee. She started her foundation as a way to honor her father. Her father could not read, nor could he write. Before he passed away, he told Dolly he was more proud of her for Imagination Library than anything else she had ever done.
In 2016, a raging wildfire devastated the local Sevier County community. Dolly leapt into action and created the My People Fund. The fund provided $10,000 per family over a period of six months to assist more than 900 people who lost their primary home in the inferno. In March 2019, the last $200,000 of the fun was donated to 8 local area volunteer fire departments. This donation helped create a new training facility in the area.
In February 2019, Dolly Parton was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year – an award created by the Recording Academy to honor their charity, which makes sure folks in the music industry have a place to turn in times of medical, financial, or personal need. The ceremony, held during Grammy week, is one of the most prestigious celebrations during that time. A silent auction and reception was held during the event. Also, many artists performed and paid tribute to Dolly’s music and legacy. Dolly Pardon spoke of the honor, and said: “I am so excited and humbled to be honored as MusiCares Person of the Year. It’s even more special knowing the gala benefits music people in need. I can’t wait to hear all of the great artists singing my music.”
In 2020, Dolly Parton made a million-dollar donation to Vanderbilt University That donation was put to good use and helped develop a high-quality test used during novel coronavirus vaccine trials. Those trials went on to create the Moderna vaccine.
She’s a co-owner of Dollywood Company
In addition to Dollywood – the 24th most popular theme park in America – her company operates several attractions in the area. Lumberjack Feud and Dolly’s Stampede are two popular theater shows here in Pigeon Forge. In 2019, Pirates Voyage made it’s way to the Smoky Mountains as well! The company also operates the new Dream More Resort and Spa and Splash Country Water Park. Her shows are also popular in the region, with Stampede operating in both Myrtle Beach and Branson, Missouri. Dollywood is the largest employer in Sevier County.
One of the most unique operations of the Dollywood Company is American Eagle Foundation. If you’ve been to Dollywood, you may have seen the eagle sanctuary located right inside the park. This 30,000-square foot sanctuary for non-releasable birds gives visitors an up close look at America’s national symbol. Park visitors also get a chance to see the birds up close during the Wings of America Birds of Prey live show.
Dollywood, which opens for the 2022-23 season on March 12, is the most visited tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee. The park continues to offer new attractions and offerings to visitors each and every year, as well as some old favorites. The 110-ton, coal-fired steam train known as Klondike Katie has been a staple of the park. You can often hear the train horn anywhere you go throughout Sevierville or Pigeon Forge. The park itself is wildly popular among park goers, having won numerous awards from Amusement Today – which is the go-to publication in the Amusement Park Industry. According to Amusement Today, the park has won Best Wooden Coaster in the World Twice, Best Shows nine times, Best Christmas 10 times, Friendliest Park six times, Best Food six times, and ranked third for Best Park in the World
Read more about Dollywood’s 2022 season here.
She’s not the only singer in the family
Music played a large part in Dolly Parton’s upbringing. The family lived in a fairly religious part of the county, the Greenbrier Valley, and singing in church was her earliest public appearance. Dolly began performing at the age of six. She was playing a homemade guitar at age 7 and played her first real guitar at the age of 8. Her mother, Avie Lee Parton, encouraged her children to sing. Dolly’s sisters Stella, Cassie, and Frieda also singers, as is her brother Randy. Her brother Floyd was a singer as well before he passed away in 2018.
Did you know you can still visit her childhood home? Well, sort of… Born in Locust Ridge, TN in 1946, Dolly Parton was the fourth of 12 children. The family didn’t have money. In fact, one rumor says that her parents paid the doctor who delivered her with a bag of cornmeal. The family lived in the original version of the Dollywood recreation on Locust Ridge, which is close to the Greenbrier Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park her ancestors one time called home. The area her family lived in the park is now a part of the Old Settler’s Trail on Bird’s Creek. Since so many members of the Parton family lived on Bird’s Creek, it was known locally as “Parton Town.”
The one-room cabin in which Dolly Parton was born is no longer accessible to the public, but you can plan a visit to see the replica of the 2-room cabin grew up in. Dolly recreated her 2-room cabin inside her theme park at Dollywood.
Married For over 50 Years
Dolly Parton and her husband, Carl Dean, married in 1966. Carl had no desire to be in the limelight. He ran a successful asphalt company outside of Nashville for many years. According to Dolly, her husband has only seen her perform once! Her husband Carl chooses not to be seen publicly, but according to Dolly, they’re very happily married.
Parton once gave an interview to NPR about the song “Jolene”. Jolene was a bank employee who happened to pay lots of attention to her husband when he went there. “It was kinda like a running joke between us…I was saying, ‘Hell, you’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money,” she states.
Ready to Visit Dolly Parton’s Mountain Home?
Now that you’ve learned all about our the most famous resident in Sevier County, it’s time to book a trip to visit the mountains she calls home! Looking to book a cabin near Dollywood? American Patriot Getaways has you covered! From cozy economy cabins for two to large luxury plus cabins for the whole extended family, there’s something for everyone here!
Dollywood, located at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd. in Pigeon Forge, opens March 12. (Splash Country opens May 14).
Dollywood’s Flower and Food Festival, where more than 500,000 flowers bloom in towering sculptures, is April 22-June 5.
During the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration from June 18-Aug. 7., the festival is expanding to include more drones taking to the skies above the beautiful Smoky Mountains. “In collaboration with Intel Drone Light Shows, Sweet Summer Nights combines the advanced technology of hundreds of sophisticated drones with a traditional fireworks extravaganza.
Book Your Adventure
Ready to book your adventure in the Smoky Mountains and see Dolly Parton’s home county?
Give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169. Let our experts help you find the right cabin and all the right fun and food near Dollywood!