Movies & Television

Watch: Jennifer Nettles Returns As Avie Lee Parton

Published November 21, 2016 / Last Updated November 21, 2016
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

The three-time GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter Jennifer Nettles returns to her role as Avie Lee Parton.

It was her break-out acting role and Dolly hand-picked her for the part. In a comment to the press about her involvement in the casting process, Dolly recalled her reaction to watching Jennifer’s video submission when auditioning for the role. Dolly said,

“She had sent in a little video. I didn’t even know she even acted. She had had her hair dark. I didn’t even recognize it as her. And when they started rolling that film, I said ‘that’s Mama.’ Nobody could have done it better.”

Landing the role was the first step. In preparation for her acting debut, Jennifer sought out advice from Dolly about Avie Lee. In an interview for the first film, Jennifer said,

“I asked Dolly about her mother and also pulled from my own precious relationship with my mother, not to mention my own relationship with my son as a mother myself.”

Jennifer delivered a moving performance as Dolly’s mother who grieves the loss of a child yet manages to cling to those she loves to begin healing and restoration.

At a press conference to promote the new film, “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” Jennifer eloquently answers a few questions about returning to the role of Avie Lee, how the first film has impacted her career and even shares a few of her favorite Christmas traditions.

Watch Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton in “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” airing on NBC on Nov. 30. It is also coming to DVD on Dec. 20, 2016.

See more cast interviews

Team DollyWatch: Jennifer Nettles Returns As Avie Lee Parton

Mama’s Memories – From Avie Lee Parton

Published May 23, 2016 / Last Updated May 28, 2016
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Avie Lee Parton writes to Dolly’s fans in 1975 about her daughter’s love of shoes and her generous spirit.

In 1975, Dolly released “The Bargain Store” which topped the U.S. Country Singles Charts becoming her fifth consecutive No. 1 single and the album became another Top 10 hit. In October, Dolly was named Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA awards. The following month, she released her 16th solo album “Dolly: The Seeker / We Used To.” “The Seeker” climbed to the No. 2 spot on the U.S. Country Singles Charts and “We Used To” reached No. 9.

The same year, Dolly earned her 10th GRAMMY nomination for her live performance of “Jolene.” It was an incredible year of awards, nominations and chart-topping hits.

Quietly living behind the scenes, Dolly’s mama, Avie Lee Parton looked on with pride and admiration. It had been 11 years since her daughter moved to Nashville, TN to follow her Music City dreams. Avie Lee was beyond proud of her Smoky Mountain Songbird and not just for the fame and notoriety she had earned. She was proud her daughter was getting everything she had dreamed of while keeping herself grounded and focused.

In this letter to Dolly’s Fan Club, Avie Lee shares two stories. The first is a delightful tale about 1000 pairs of shoes and the second is about Dolly’s overwhelming generosity that surprised even Avie Lee.

Submitted by Avie Lee to Dolly Parton’s Fan Club Journal, December 1975

Mama’s Memories

As I watched the CMA awards Oct. 13 and saw Dolly win Female Vocalist of the Year, I said to myself, “I’ve seen another of Dolly’s dreams come true.”

Hi, I’m Dolly Parton’s mother and I want to tell her many fans how proud I am to be her mother and to share some memories with you for this holiday season.

One year for Christmas we bought all the children new shoes, and my sister bought Dolly a pair of black patent leather slippers with bows. Another aunt gave her a pair that were too small for her child, so Dolly had three pairs. I can still remember how proud she was to have that many shoes at one time, and she said in her child-like voice, “When I grow up I’ll have a thousand pairs of shoes.”

Two years ago when I was helping Dolly move into her new home, I decided I would count her shoes just for fun, remembering what she had said as a child. I counted over a thousand pairs of shoes. She still loves pretty shoes and jewelry, and I remember how she would make rings and bracelets from any pretty thing she could find. I really enjoy seeing Dolly in all her pretty clothes and jewelry.

Dolly has always been sincere in that when she tells someone she is going to do something she does it. When Dolly was fifteen years old we bought a farm. We sold the house we had built because we didn’t need two houses, but I cried anyway because I felt close to the home Lee and I had built with our own hands. I remember Dolly saying, “Don’t cry Mama. I’ll buy it back for you when I get rich.” Well, I felt ashamed for crying and didn’t let anyone know how foolish I had been. Five years later I had forgotten the promise Dolly had made. She came home for a visit, but it was more than a visit. She came in and said, “Mama, I’ve bought back your house for you. I told you I would and I have.” Lee and I tried to tell her we didn’t need it with the house on the farm, too, but she said, “I wouldn’t be happy or satisfied to buy a home for myself until you had yours back,” so that’s where we live today.

Now that the children are all grown up and gone away from home, I have time to look back and think about things. I remember that Dolly made up songs before she could write them down. Her music has always been a sacred thing to her. When other children were going to ball games or out on dates, she would rather be somewhere singing. She would stay up all night writing songs and come downstairs to breakfast singing and laughing and tell her Daddy a joke before he left for work. She would say after he left, “I feel better if Daddy laughs before he leaves for work.”

Dolly is a very sensitive person and she can’t stand to see anyone sad or hurt. I believe that is why she has such a great talent to write. She can see sorrow and heartache in other people’s lives and it hurts her very much.

Lee and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for helping Dolly see another dream come true.

Merry Christmas,
Lee and Avie Lee Parton

Read more about Avie Lee including the famous Stone Soup story in A Mother’s Love & Inspiration – Avie Lee Parton

Order “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” on DVD starring Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton.

 

Team DollyMama’s Memories – From Avie Lee Parton

Billboard Video Exclusive: Dolly Mamma

Published December 16, 2015 / Last Updated December 16, 2015
Team Dolly

Team Dolly

Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Team Dolly

Dolly Parton shares a Christmas story about surprising her parents with big gifts in this exclusive video from Billboard.

Dolly’s parents, Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton raised 12 children in a tiny cabin in East Tennessee. They taught all their children to appreciate what they had, even if that was very little at times. In turn, Dolly always found joy in giving back to her family, especially her parents. Dolly said,

“It was always my wish to be able to do something great for my family. And, of course, I love my Daddy and my Mamma.”

Find out what Dolly calls the “Dolly Mamma” in this exclusive Billboard video.

Billboard Video Exclusive: Dolly Mamma

Team DollyBillboard Video Exclusive: Dolly Mamma

Jennifer Nettles As Avie Lee Parton – Interview

Published December 3, 2015 / Last Updated December 3, 2015
Dolly Parton Productions

Dolly Parton Productions

Managing Editor at Dolly Parton Productions
Team Dolly is a collaboration of writers, editors, and publishers assembled by Dolly Parton Productions. Each member is dedicated to accurately publishing the latest news and historical archives of the living legend that is Dolly Rebecca Parton.

Managing Editor - Jacob Timmons
Creative Director - Sarah Chapman
Senior Editor - Amanda Webb
Dolly Parton Productions

Jennifer Nettles shares her thoughts on Avie Lee, her favorite moments of the film and more.

Singer-songwriter and musician, Jennifer Nettles, portrays Dolly Parton’s mother in the new NBC film based on Dolly’s song, “Coat of Many Colors.” Best known as lead vocalist of the country duo Sugarland, Jennifer is a storyteller at heart. She was beyond thrilled to join in the re-telling of this beloved story from Dolly’s childhood.

Alyvia Alyn Lind, Jennifer Nettles
DOLLY PARTON'S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: (l-r) Alyvia Alyn Lind as Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Alyvia Alyn Lind, Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles, Gerald McRaney
DOLLY PARTON"S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton, Gerald McRaney as Reverend Jake Owens -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Jennifer Nettles, Gerald McRaney
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton
DOLLY PARTON"S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton
DOLLY PARTON"S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton
Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors
DOLLY PARTON'S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: (l-r) Alyvia Alyn Lind as Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton, Ricky Schroder as Robert Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors
Alyvia Alyn Lind, Jennifer Nettles
DOLLY PARTON"S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: (l-r) Alyvia Alyn Lind as Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Alyvia Alyn Lind, Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton
DOLLY PARTON"S COAT OF MANY COLORS -- "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" -- Pictured: Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton -- (Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBC)
Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton

Q. As you started to develop your character, what things about Avie Lee stood out or perhaps surprised you?

A. What I loved most about Avie Lee was her authentic mixture of vulnerability, compassion and strength. She loses a child and goes into a dark depression. She checks out for a while. She is real and wounded and human. But, her love of her family gives her strength to push beyond and create a beautiful metaphor of rebirth out of tragedy by making a coat for Dolly. I love so much that beautiful, living metaphor of her sewing those pieces back together. So womanly and strong.

Q. The Parton family is known for their tight-knit bonds. While filming, did the cast develop similar family-like relationships?

A. We had a ball. Having so many kids in the cast kept us all laughing and humble. Children have a beautiful way of demanding your presence and that definitely provided levity much of the time. Though there were times where I definitely heard myself become “mother-hen” in trying to help keep their little attentions for the next shot. And, true to the script, many of the older children helped to keep the younger ones in focus.

Q. Considering everything you have done in your career, where does this role rank in your list of achievements?

A. Playing the role of Avie Lee definitely ranks up at the top of the list for rewarding artistic experiences. I love telling stories, be it in a three and a half minute song or as an actor. Getting to tell such a beautiful story as Avie Lee’s and getting to dive deeply into her heart, her struggles and her strength was such a treat for me.

Q. Knowing that Dolly herself helped cast you in this role, did you feel a certain amount of pressure to get it right and if so how did you handle it?

A. You better believe I felt pressure!! I was chosen to play Dolly Parton’s mother!! The relationship between a mother and child is so special and sacred and complex. I wanted to honor their close bond and make Dolly proud at the same time. I asked Dolly about her mother and also pulled from my own precious relationship with my mother, not to mention my own relationship with my son as a mother myself.

Q. The song “Coat of Many Colors” first debuted in 1971, yet it still has a powerful message for people today. Why do you think people relate so well to this story?

A. The symbol of the “Coat of Many Colors” is one of alchemy. We are all so attracted and attached to the very real experience of something simple and humble actually holding the most value. We love and relate to taking humility and limited resources and watching them be transformed into gold, through the lens of love.

Q. Other than “Coat of Many Colors,” do you have a favorite Dolly song?

A. “Jolene.” Of course. Such a fantastic story of the complexities and messiness of love and life. And I love that it is from one woman to another.

Q. What was your favorite moment of making the film or your favorite takeaway?

A. Interestingly enough, my favorite moments were the most painful ones. The funeral scene in particular. How cathartic. I hope its rawness touches people and reminds them that their own losses are seen and understood.

See more cast interviews and tune in Thursday, December 10 at 9/8c on NBC to watch Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.”

Important Links:
Dolly Parton ProductionsJennifer Nettles As Avie Lee Parton – Interview

Dolly’s Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone

Published October 25, 2015 / Last Updated November 1, 2015

The Lovelaces

Tim and Mary Alice Lovelace are a husband/wife writing duo who enjoy co-writing songs, news articles, and short stories.

Latest posts by The Lovelaces (see all)

Dolly takes center stage with her microphone made from an old tin can and a tobacco stick wedged between the boards of her Front Porch.

If you had gone from cabin to cabin across the mountains of Appalachia in the 1940s and 50s, you would have observed a wide variety of activities. You might have caught a glimpse of a young boy watching his grandfather whittle a slingshot handle from a piece of white oak. On down the dirt road, you may have seen a mother lovingly teaching her children how to churn butter. Up the mountain on Locust Ridge, however, something extra special was happening at the Parton’s Tennessee Mountain Home…

In the Smoky Mountain morning light, there was a little girl with great big dreams of becoming a star. Her stage, the front porch, had been there all along, but she needed a microphone. She knew it would require a little more creativity —she’d have to make one. She searched through a pile of tobacco sticks, trying to find just the right one to use as her microphone stand. She tried three or four and finally found one she could wedge between the weathered wooden slats. With her stand securely in place, it was time to find her microphone. She loved all things shiny and knew just what she would use. She removed the label from a recently discarded tin can and smiled at her reflection as she held her first microphone in her little hands. In a crowning moment, she balanced it atop the tobacco stick. She paused to take a deep breath, and that’s when the magic began.

If you had been there, you may have simply seen a little girl in her favorite cotton dress singing her heart out to her younger siblings and throwing some extra feed to the ducks and chickens to ensure a captive audience. If you could have seen it through little Dolly’s sparkling eyes, though, it would have taken your breath away! The wings of her imagination carried her to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. She swayed to the rhythm of her heartbeat in a beautiful shimmering dress and sang into the famed WSM microphone to a sold-out crowd at the Ryman auditorium.

Dolly shares,

“I just pictured myself out there in the big world singing songs I’d written, performing to people and getting out of the mountains and just traveling around.”

It was a window to her dreams. Singing meant the world to her, and she was determined to take her music beyond the hills of her home.

Dolly's Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone
Dolly Parton's Tin Can and Tobacco Stick Microphone
Dolly's Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone
Dolly Parton, mother, father, siblings
Dolly Parton Tin Can and Tobacco Stick Microphone
Dolly Parton, mother, father, siblings
Rare photo of Dolly Parton
Rare photo of a young Dolly Parton performing in East Tennessee in front of a McCarter Auction truck.
Rare photo of Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton at the Ryman Photo by Curtis Hilbun / AFF-USA.COM
Dolly Parton returns to the Ryman Auditorium August 1, 2015.
Photo courtesy of Curtis Hilbun.
Dolly Parton at the Ryman Photo by Curtis Hilbun / AFF-USA.COM

With that same cadence of determination, that’s exactly what she did! Now an American music icon and longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, the spirit that fueled her front-porch-dreams has propelled her from the beloved stage of her childhood to untold numbers of sold-out performances in venues all over the world.

Dolly says,

“That little tobacco stick and tin can have carried me far.”

Everything she envisioned on that front porch has become a reality, and though she may use many different microphones during her performances today, none could ever compare to the one of her youth…a tin can and a tobacco stick.

Dolly's Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone

The LovelacesDolly’s Tin Can And Tobacco Stick Microphone