As Creative Director at Dolly Parton Enterprises, Steve Summers wears a lot of hats. He’s a stylist, set designer, lighting expert, travel planner, event organizer...the list could go on and on. His daily activities are ever-changing as Dolly Parton’s go-to guy. And when the coronavirus shutdown halted jet-setting artists like his iconic boss-lady, Steve wasn’t sure what would be in store for DPE. But, let’s face it, Dolly Parton has never been one to sit back and watch the hours tick by. She had plans and Steve was ready and willing to get to work.
Soon Steve would be helping Dolly plan a 10-week video series, a touching tribute to her longtime friend Kenny Rogers, several social media messages for each of her businesses and ultimately a new music video for Dolly’s inspirational new song, “When Life Is Good Again.”
In this exclusive interview, Steve talks about morning meetings with Dolly. She shared a myriad of ideas she wanted to produce. First, she orchestrated a video storytime series for her Imagination Library called “Goodnight with Dolly.” Steve helped film the series from Dolly’s home. He helped facilitate live, remote interviews with Dolly for NBC’s TODAY and her first ZOOM call with Time100. So it wasn’t surprising when Dolly called on Steve to direct her biggest project, a fully-produced music video for her new song, “When Life Is Good Again.”
Steve talks about Dolly’s inspiration for the song and the creative process he was privileged to see take place during the recording process. He wanted to carry that same message of hope and inspiration through the video. Dolly crafted an incredible song centered on hope and she wanted the video to serve as a tribute to frontline workers everywhere by honoring their bravery and unwavering determination shown during the pandemic. Steve said,
“[Dolly] was very specific that it had to have frontline workers on it and they had to be real. It was all about respect. She wanted to make sure that they knew that they were loved and respected and the song was a tribute to them.”
Dolly Parton lends her ever-assuring voice during the COVID-19 health crisis with the release of her new song, "When Life Is Good Again" and premiered the official music video exclusively on Time.com. Dolly also joined "TIME100 Talks: Finding Hope" and discussed Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and her popular "Goodnight with Dolly" YouTube series.
The music video for "When Life Is Good Again" is a heartwarming visual that reminds everyone of all the happy memories and inspires us to look forward past this temporary moment of distance and isolation. Parton also uses the video as a nod to all of the selfless front line workers who are fighting each day to keep us safe. Several of those courageous health workers are featured in the video as a symbol of community and how in times of crisis we come together to support one another.
"Since our world was forever changed by the COVID virus, I have felt a deep respect and appreciation for all of our frontline responders," says Parton. "This video is to pay respect to them and to remind all of us that this too shall pass. If we pull together as a community, we can rise above and look forward to more beautiful days on the horizon. I hope you love this song as much as I have loved bringing it to you."
Dolly joined TIME Editor-In-Chief, Edward Felsenthal, on "TIME100 Talks: Finding Hope" on May 28, and discussed public service and why initiatives like her influential children's literacy program, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, and her current web series, "Goodnight With Dolly," are so important and close to her heart. At the conclusion of the interview stream, Parton and Felsenthal exclusively premiered the official music video for "When Life Is Good Again."
The "TIME100 Talks: Finding Hope" series brings together the world’s leading voices to spotlight solutions and encourage action toward a better world. This series will have a special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Other luminaries who have been featured in the series include Angelina Jolie, John Legend, among many others.
In addition to speaking on the Imagination Library and their work, Parton also discusses her wildly successful YouTube series, "Goodnight with Dolly," in which she reads select Imagination Library books, all carefully chosen for this moment in time. The 10-week series kicked-off on April 2nd with a reading of "The Little Engine That Could" and will come to the end of its run on June 4th.
Dolly Parton has consistently used her platform to spread hope and joy to countless fans throughout her legendary career. At a time when our world seems to be in disarray and so many are struggling, Parton is once again using her familiar and comforting voice to lift us all to a better place with the release of her new song "When Life Is Good Again." Look for the official music video, premiering exclusively on TIME.com on May 28.