Dolly was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 3, 2006, along with classical music conductor Zubin Mehta, musical artist Smokey Robinson, motion picture director Steven Spielberg, and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The award recognizes a performing artist’s lifetime contribution to American culture.
Steve Buckingham, Dolly’s longtime record producer, was not surprised by the honor at all because he feels Dolly’s impact has been "huge... not just because of her body of work as a singer and songwriter and an actress but her philanthropic work... That impact isn't limited to this country [U.S.]... I've been around different parts of the world with her, the U.K., Switzerland, Amsterdam, Paris... There's no place you go... that people don't know her. I always say, the one thing you never hear when you're anywhere with her is, `I wonder if that's Dolly Parton?' because there's no doubt."
Artists who performed or delivered remarks on Dolly’s behalf at the ceremony were actress Reese Witherspoon and musical performers Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Carrie Underwood, Alison Krauss, Suzanne Cox, Cheryl White, Shania Twain, Vince Gill and Jessica Simpson.
President George W. Bush praised the honorees for “enriching the cultural life of our country."