Dolly Parton's path to stardom was paved with self-penned songs of uncommon
intellect and empathy. Known for her mountain-pure voice and her flamboyant
appearance, Parton has made a major impact on country and pop music with such
classics as "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," "9 to 5" and "Love Is Like a
Butterfly." Her multi-genre smash "I Will Always Love You" has risen to the top
of the pop, country, adult contemporary and R&B charts in versions by Parton
and Whitney Houston.
Parton was raised in the mountains of east Tennessee. Her interest in music
began in early childhood, and she was performing on local television by age 10.
Aided by her music-making uncle, Bill Owens, she first appeared on the Grand
Ole Opry at 13, and she moved to Nashville immediately after her high school
graduation at 18.
With Owens, she co-wrote two Top 10 hits for Bill Phillips in 1966, the same
year she signed with Fred Foster's Monument Records. In 1967, she scored her
first solo hits, and she began a partnership with Porter Wagoner, appearing on
Wagoner's syndicated television show and recording popular duets with him. In
1973, as she was ending that partnership, she wrote "I Will Always Love You"
for Wagoner, and her initial version of the song topped the Billboard
country chart in 1974. A second version, recorded for a movie soundtrack, was a
country chart-topper for Parton in 1982. A decade later, Whitney Houston's
soaring version became a cross-genre hit, and "I Will Always Love You" became
Houston's signature song. It spent 14 weeks atop the Billboard pop charts and
sold more than four million copies.
Parton went on to star on stages, on television and in the movies. She was the
first female country artist to record two #1 pop singles (both self-penned),
and the first to be nominated for an Academy Award. She was the first female
songwriter to win BMI's Five-Million Air award, given for 5 million radio
performances of "I Will Always Love You." She was inducted into the Nashville
Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and
the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001. In addition to her eight Grammy
Awards, nine Country Music Association awards and nine Academy of Country Music
awards, she has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, a Kennedy Center
Honor and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.