Despite her enormous popularity and money, Dolly Parton has stayed modest throughout her outstanding profession as a musician, businesswoman, and philanthropist. It’s no wonder that fame has accompanied her wherever she’s gone.
Parton knows the hardships of poverty because she grew up in a large household. She is now a powerful Hollywood celebrity, but despite her success, she has never forgotten her modest roots.
Dolly Rebecca Parton, whose real name is Dolly Rebecca Parton, was born on January 19, 1946, on Locust Ridge in Sevierville, Tennessee. She was born in a one-bedroom cottage to a family of eleven siblings.
Her dad, Robert Lee Parton, was a sharecropper who couldn’t read or write owing to a lack of educational opportunities, and he supported his income by working in construction.
Growing up in a musically inclined household, the country icon was constantly surrounded by music. Despite their challenging living conditions, they discovered happiness and connection through singing.
Parton’s mom, performer Avie Lee Owens, trained her daughter to sing. She sang church songs and Elizabethan ballads that had been passed down through her family for centuries.
Likewise, Jake Robert Owens, Parton’s grandpa, was a clergyman and the author of the song “Singing His Praise.” Several of Parton’s siblings became musicians, and several joined her family band.
Parton also had an uncle named Sam Owens, who was also a musician and singer-songwriter. Her uncle liked music and was the first to discover when she was a youngster that she had the ability to become a great musician.
Stella Mae, Cassie Nan, twins Freida Estelle and Rachel Ann, Willadeene, David Wilburn, Coy Denver, Bobby Lee, Robert, and Larry are among Parton’s siblings. Robert died in 2021 from cancer, while Larry died as a newborn.
Parton, the fourth of twelve siblings, regularly assisted her parents in caring for the younger kids. She shared a little house with her family.
Their log cottage had just one bedroom and one living room at the time, and there was no running water or electricity. The property is still standing today.
Parton has always been candid about her poor roots and how they shaped her outlook on life. She comes from a large family with few finances, so she understands the difficulties of poverty.
Parton reminisced on her youth in the mountains of rural Tennessee in a 2016 interview, concentrating on the early memories that provided her the greatest delight.
She recalled spending time with her siblings, singing at church, and doing duties she didn’t particularly enjoy. She also recalled the many hours she spent laughing with her family.
Parton said how her brothers and sisters were always singing and how she would attempt to convince them to be her support singers when she pretended to be the lead vocalist on stage, yet they were absolutely uninterested.
Parton remembered that their little house was often crammed with her brothers, resulting in a lot of mocking and arguing. Regardless of all the turbulence, they always remained a family.
She stated that they spent the most of their time outside as the cabin was too tiny for them to comfortably hang out. The outside area was used as an extension for eating, entertaining, and playing games.
Parton stated that her family was always thankful for food and a roof over their heads. It wasn’t what they had hoped for, but her parents continually stressed that there were other families who suffered more than they did.
Parton’s enthusiasm and musical aptitude would ultimately lead her to become one of the most popular and adored country music performers of all time, considering her family’s humble beginnings.
Despite having good recollections of her upbringing, Parton admitted that growing up in poverty meant living in difficult circumstances. She virtually lived in a shanty with her 14-member family, having no access to basic essentials.
She told writer Lawrence Grobel in a March 1978 Playboy magazine interview that she was only eight years old when she first saw a toilet and bathroom in her aunt’s home and was attracted by them.
Bathing every day was not something Parton and her family could afford. They frequently made their own soap and would occasionally get into the truck and go to the river to wash in its waters.
There was a brook nearby, but they preferred swimming in the river since it was like a “big bath” for all of them. While their handmade soap trickled down the river, they would swim together and wash each other’s hair.
Parton joked that their river bath would have left a ring around the Little Pigeon River, comparing their river bath to a “bathtub.” For them, bathing in the river was a midsummer rite.
During the winter, the entire family would wash as much as possible in a pan of water.
My Tennessee Mountain Home ❤️ pic.twitter.com/dQwNZtFBZt— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) November 9, 2022
When she entered high school, bathing became more essential to Parton. Because of her younger siblings’ filthy nighttime habits, she would take a bath every night. She disclosed that e very night, the kids peed on her. Three and four of them slept in the bed. Every night, she would wash her clothes. And as soon as she went to bed, the kids would wet on her, and she’d have to do it all over again in the morning.
Willing to express her feelings, Parton added that, while getting peed on may sound disgusting to some, it was a fantastic source of warmth in the cold.
She remembered how cold it might be in the mountains and how it was almost a joy to be peed on as the room was as cold as the outside. She suggested they’d all snuggle up in bed.
You know I love my Smoky Mountain home, and I want you to know everything you love about the mountains are still here and better than ever! https://t.co/g8TcHrI7Nk— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) June 5, 2017
Parton has regarded her family as joyful and wealthy in other ways, despite their poverty. Growing up humbled her, and even when she amassed millions, she never stopped caring for others in need, much as her family did when she was a youngster.
Parton claimed her family influenced her music, and her theme park, Dollywood, and Dixie Stampede—one of the park’s shows—are designed to allow families to spend time together and have fun.
Parton’s net worth was projected by Forbes to be $375 million in 2022, making her a self-made millionaire. Her financial success was mostly due to her control of music publishing rights and her theme park.
She owns approximately 3,000 songs, including the well-known “I Will Always Love You,” which she refused to share with Elvis Presley in the 1970s. This choice paid off when Whitney Houston recorded the song in the 1990s.
When her songs are utilised in movies, transmitted, or sold, Parton earns a publishing fee. According to Forbes, her songs are worth $150 million, and she has made $6 million to $8 million in royalties.
But, the music icon’s enormous riches stems from her famed theme park, Dollywood, which is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations. It supposedly earns $3 million every year.
When the theme park was still called Pigeon Forge, the country artist invested in it in 1968. She then changed the name to “Dollywood,” a pun on the term “Hollywood.” The park features a hotel as well as a water park.
Doggy Parton, a pun on her renowned moniker, has also lately started a new firm. Her passion for animals prompted the creation of the firm, which manufactures dog toys and apparel lines.
Parton’s early experiences instilled her the value of sharing her success with others. She is a singer and businesswoman who is also involved in various charity and social initiatives and has contributed millions to people in need.
Parton collaborated with a group of musicians in 2016 to collect $13 million for survivors of the East Tennessee wildfires that ravaged Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Other well-known performers that performed at the “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” event were Chris Stapelton, Kenny Rogers, Lauren Alaina, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Cyndy Lauper, and Chris Young.
Parton donated $1 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville in 2017 after her niece was treated there for leukaemia.
Parton made a big commitment to the healthcare industry by voluntarily contributing a huge amount of money, in addition to offering financial support to individuals afflicted by natural catastrophes.
She made news in 2020 after donating $1 million to vaccine research during the COVID-19 epidemic, which affected individuals all over the world. Her contributions aided in the development of the Moderna vaccine.
Parton is also well-known for her lifetime commitment to encouraging early childhood literacy. Every month, she provides free books to nearly one million kids through her non-profit organisation, Imagination Library.
Parton and Robert Lee launched a non-profit organisation to help youngsters learn to read and write in 1995, motivated by her dad’s personal struggle with illiteracy. It began in eastern Tennessee, but it has now expanded to benefit children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Other countries that have benefited from the literacy initiative include Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Parton announced at the Library of Congress in 2018 that the programme has distributed its 100 millionth book.
Parton had no idea her campaign would be so effective when it began, with her primary goal being to aid her father and her village.
Parton was also pleased that her dad took satisfaction in contributing a significant amount to something useful. Before passing away in 2000, he was able to see the rewards of their efforts.
Moreover, her goals for the Imagination Library are lofty. She acknowledged that she had lofty goals, such as giving out a billion books in her lifetime.
Even though Parton had a difficult upbringing, she never lost the value of family and community. She utilised her fame to give back, contributing millions of dollars to philanthropic organisations such as education, health, and disaster relief each year.
Her impoverished background emphasized to her the importance of hard work, persistence, and the ability of music to unite people. And, when she reflects on her life, she recalls the pleasure, laughter, and love that filled her childhood home, as well as the family that stood with her every step of the way.