My Life

My People: Dolly Parton’s Greatest Investment

Published March 15, 2017 / Last Updated March 15, 2017
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

A reflection on Dolly Parton’s devotion to her people and her home.

By 1985, Dolly was a CMA, ACM and GRAMMY award-winning artist. Her acting career was flourishing with blockbuster hits such as “9 to 5” and she had earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! Dolly had reached superstar status. Yet, to the surprise of many, she dreamed of home and the people living there. Her vision, to build a place where her success would be enjoyed by many for generations and generations to come.

A Dream

Most folks have heard how Dollywood got its name. On one of her first trips to California, Dolly fantasized about changing the H to a D in the iconic Hollywood sign. But what about her vision for the actual park. What motivated the young star to invest so much of herself back home in the mountains of East Tennessee? The answer is simple, Dolly loves her people, her home and everything about her heritage that helped shape her into not just the star but the person she became. A kind, generous, real soul who knows where she is going and loves where she came from.

In her autobiography, “Dolly My Life and Other Unfinished Business” Dolly reflected on why she wanted to open Dollywood. She said,

“The theme park is much more about the mountains and the culture of the people who live there than it is about Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton simply happens to be the most famous hillbilly from those particular hills, and a lot of people are curious about me and my life. There is plenty there to satisfy that curiosity, but there is also plenty that celebrates the spirit of a people who made a life for themselves in that very stingy countryside. These are my real people, the seed from which I sprang. I saw Dollywood as a chance to honor them.”

Grand Opening

Despite naysayers, the park was nearly an overnight success. The 1986 grand opening saw around 10,000 guests pass through the gates. Five months later, the park welcomed its one millionth visitor. Today, Dollywood sees 2.5 million visitors per year. That number hits 4 million when combined with other Dollywood properties such as Splash Country and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort. In 2013, Dolly and the Dollywood Company announced a 10-year, $300 million expansion plan. The plan included the 300-room resort which opened in 2015.

While the guest experience is at the center of the “world’s friendliest park” the people are still the heartbeat. The Dollywood Company now employs over 3000 people. In her book, published in 1994, Dolly wrote,

“I love the fact that I am able to give something back and provide so many people with jobs where none existed before. Of course, the Great Smoky Mountains were there for a couple of million years before I came along, and they are still the main attraction in the area, which is as it should be. If Dollywood can give some people a little extra incentive to visit there, then I am absolutely tickled.”

Perhaps Dolly’s sentiment for her people is best expressed in the words to her song, “My People, My Home” the opening number at Dollywood’s My People show.

These are my mountains, these are my valleys,
these are my rivers flowing like a song.

These are my people, these are my memories,
These are my mountains, this is my home.

“My People, My Home” – By Dolly Parton

 
 
 
 
 

Dollywood opens March 18, 2017! This year, the park will unveil two new rides, Drop Line and Whistle Punk Chaser, and Dollywood’s Splash Country will debut TailSpin Racer later this summer.

Visit Dollywood.com to see upcoming festivals, events and more!

Team DollyMy People: Dolly Parton’s Greatest Investment

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.

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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