Image by Curtis Hilbun
Dolly’s longtime friend and duet partner, Kenny Rogers, returned to Dollywood to help raise money and awareness for her Imagination Library, a book gifting program for kids from birth to age five. Just days after announcing his retirement on the TODAY show, Kenny sang to a sold-out crowd, giving everyone a night to remember at Dollywood’s D.P. Celebrity Theatre. Fans from around the world made their way to Pigeon Forge, TN for a chance to see “The Gambler” performing songs from his treasure chest of mega hits in an intimate setting.
During a special meet and greet before the concert, we asked Kenny what about Dolly and her Imagination Library made him want to come be a part of the benefit concert series. He said,
"You know, she’s an amazing person. She can take something and really grow it into something fantastic. She said they’ve shipped 70 million books! I think it’s a great idea. I’m glad to be a part of this and I hope it helps!"
The autumn air of the Smokies was filled with the sweet sounds of Kenny’s hit songs throughout the park. From “Coward Of The County,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,” and “The Gambler,” to “Islands In The Stream,” “Lady” and “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” the moment the ever so recognizable sounds would begin, the crowd again and again erupted in thunderous applause.
When it was time to count the money, Kenny’s performance raised over $60,000 for Dolly’s Imagination Library bringing the total raised during the benefit concert series to more than $635,000.
When Dolly heard the news, she said,
"I’m so grateful to Kenny for wanting to help my Imagination Library. He’s always been such a great friend to me and I’m so happy that he made time to come to Dollywood and I know the fans just loved it. Kenny, if you’re reading this, I want to you to know just how much I appreciate you and you know I’ll always love you!"
In the midst of a fierce thunder and lightning storm in South Dakota, Kenny Rogers sat down to talk about his upcoming performance at Dollywood. The concert will benefit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. He also talked about his relationship with Dolly throughout the years.
Kenny will perform one show on Sept. 27, 2015, as part of the Showcase of Stars concert series at Dollywood. His personal connection to the park goes back to the beginning. He said,
“I remember the opening when Dolly and I were there and I think she was a little hesitant as to whether or not the park was going to work or not and sure enough it did. And 25 years later I was there and I have to tell you that I have two boys 11-years-old and they much prefer Dollywood over Disney World. They said the people were so much nicer and I think the food's better there too.”
Kenny went on to say,
"I think with me and Dolly, just being together, at least I can only speak for myself, being together has its own rewards and creates its own memories. We've never planned anything, it's always kind of happened and that's what makes our relationship so spontaneous."
Of course, Dolly and Kenny's friendship goes back long before she opened her theme park in the Smoky Mountains. They met for the first time on Dolly's television show, but it wasn't until they recorded their first hit "Islands in the Stream" that they were able to really get to know one another. From then on, the two have had a lasting friendship. Kenny said,
“I did Dolly's TV show, the one that had the big butterfly on the wall. And I did one of my records, it was the first record I think that I had on Warner Brothers and I did that and I met her. She was incredibly sweet to me but it was more like a hostess and I was a guest. And then later on we met again when we were recording ‘Islands in the Stream.’ And I had really never spent any time with Dolly and that was the point when we really realized we had a lot of stuff in common and we truly enjoyed being in each other's company. She makes me laugh and apparently I make her laugh. I've seen some films of us on stage and I've never seen two people relate to each other better than Dolly and I do on stage.”
Kenny's upcoming concert will benefit Dolly’s Imagination Library, a book gifting program that has, to-date, sent over 72 million free books to children around the world. When we quoted those numbers to Kenny even he was astounded by the effort and said,
"Wow, that's great."
Kenny is generously bringing his Through The Years World Tour to Dollywood’s D.P. Celebrity Theater as the final artist performing for the Showcase of Stars benefit concert series. However, not wanting to miss the opportunity to rib his old friend, Kenny said,
"I had heard [Dolly] did this before... but we have not gotten [the books] so put me on the list. Tell Dolly she owes me that much. (laughing) Tell her she has historically underpaid me, and I'm tired of it."
His joke is yet another testament to the friendship he and Dolly share that is blind to both the passage of time and distance between them. Kenny said,
“When we recorded this last song, ‘You Can't Make Old Friends,’ I hadn't seen her in two or three years. She came walking in the studio and it was like we were together yesterday. That's the beauty of her personality. I've said this before, she has no filter, if it goes in her mind it comes out her mouth. I think that's a great quality because people know where they are at all times with her and their relationship.”
Kenny will continue his tour on Oct. 3 in North Myrtle Beach, SC which is also home to Dolly's Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction. In addition, Kenny will begin a new tour in November supporting his latest album, "Once Again It's Christmas" featuring several guests including Jennifer Nettles. Nettles, Kenny and Dolly's mutual friend, will star as Dolly's mother in the upcoming NBC television movie, "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors."
No word yet on any plans for another duet project. For now the two old friends are quite satisfied to team up to help put more books in the hands of more children.
Dollywood’s D.P. Celebrity Theatre packed in an enthusiastic crowd of fans eager to hear The Band Perry perform their hits on home turf. With an intimate, acoustic setting, the vocally gifted siblings did not disappoint. Performing hit after hit, from “If I Die Young” to “Better Dig Two,” their harmonic voices were the perfect blend of what Dolly calls “blood harmony.” Kimberly even surprised the audience with her rendition of Dolly’s mega-hit song, “I’ll Always Love You,” and as you can imagine, the crowd went wild.
Although Kimberly, Reid and Neil were all happy to be back home in East Tennessee playing for fans at Dollywood, they were also there to show their love and support of Dolly’s book gifting program for children, the Imagination Library. When asked what it was about the program that made them want to get involved, Kimberly said,
"We are big believers in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. With Imagination Library specifically, the three of us grew up loving, loving to read. It was one of the greatest loves that we remember and some of the earliest memories that we remember."
Neil went on to say,
"You never know how it will influence you in life. For the three of us and our writing, it was a big, big factor in the way we write our songs. You never know what reading a book will do to change your life. It's a really great thing and we're glad to be a part of it."
Dolly was thrilled that The Band Perry came out to support the program. She shared,
"I'm so proud to know that my Imagination Library has had such a positive influence on Kimberly, Reid and Neil, and I appreciate them coming to Dollywood to show their love and support!"
The Band Perry gave fans an amazing night of great entertainment, and more than $75,000 was raised for the Imagination Library! If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing this trio perform, do yourself a favor and go see them.
Check out The Band Perry’s website for show dates and times.
Dolly announced earlier this year that Dollywood was bringing back the Showcase of Stars to help raise money for her Imagination Library. She herself kicked off the series in early August with two days of concerts that raised more than $500,000.
As the final artist in Dollywood’s Showcase of Stars lineup, Dolly’s longtime friend and duet partner, Kenny Rogers, will appear in concert on Sunday, Sept. 27 at the D.P. Celebrity Theatre.
Tickets to see Kenny Rogers at the D.P. Celebrity Theatre available at Dollywood.com.
Dollywood hosts The Band Perry in concert as part of the Showcase of Stars concert series benefiting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. One of the most dynamic acts in music today, the sibling trio proved to be a powerful new force when they delivered their platinum self-titled debut: "The Band Perry," which offered up five hit singles, including the quintuple-platinum chart-topper "If I Die Young."
In recent years, the band has earned multiple awards from The Academy of Country Music, The Country Music Association, CMT Music Awards and The American Country Awards including a 2014 ACM award for Vocal Group of the Year. This is the first time the group from nearby Greeneville, Tennessee has performed at Dollywood.
Dolly Parton announced the return of Dollywood’s popular Showcase of Stars concert series in March as part of the award-winning park’s 30th anniversary season. Parton, whose last benefit concert at Dollywood was in 2005, kicked off the series with four sold-out concerts Aug. 8-9 at D.P.’s Celebrity Theater, and raised $500,000 in the process.
Showcase of Stars offers guests the experience of great performances in an intimate setting, while allowing them to simultaneously support a worthy cause. Dollywood season passholders have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to the show. Passholders will receive an email with an exclusive link to purchase. Any remaining tickets will be made available to the general public at a later date.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program administered through the Dollywood Foundation which provides an age-appropriate book each month to children from birth to age five in participating communities. To date, the Imagination Library has provided more than 71 million books in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Featured image by Curtis Hilbun
The performances billed as Dolly: Pure & Simple, kicked off a series of concerts at Dollywood, all of which benefit Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. From Blue Smoke to Backwoods Barbie, 9 to 5 and Coat Of Many Colors, Dolly captivated the crowd show after show performing her latest and greatest hits. When welcoming the audience, Dolly said,
“Thank you from all the kids and me! We give books to children all over the world now, and the Imagination Library started right here in Sevier County, right up here in these hills. So thank you all for coming tonight. I truly believe that you can never get enough books into the hands of enough children.”
Family, friends, and fans from around the world headed to Pigeon Forge, TN to show their support for Dolly and her book gifting program for children. The four sold-out shows raised nearly $500,000.00. Now present in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Imagination Library has mailed more than 71 million free books to babies!
During her performances, Dolly also shared her excitement for her all new resort next to the waterpark and theme park. She said,
“I am so proud of all the things we are doing here. Of course, it’s our 30th Anniversary, and we’ve been longing for our own hotel ever since we started Dollywood. Yesterday, I had a chance to go over to the resort and do some videos and things in my suite, and I got to see the resort up and breathin’ with real people in it. We are just so proud of it!”
Dolly’s weekend concerts are the first of several concerts taking place this year as part of Dollywood’s Showcase of Stars, all of which will benefit her Imagination Library. The next scheduled performer is Kenny Rogers.
View related press release via Webster PR