Dolly was born in beautiful Sevierville, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains, the fourth of twelve children. Her family was, as she has described them, “dirt poor.” Her early songs described her life, living in a one-room cabin, sharing one bed with many siblings.
She began performing as a child, and by age nine, she was appearing on radio and television in Knoxville. At thirteen, recorded a song and appeared for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, she moved to Nashville.
Dolly’s initial success came as a songwriter, writing hits for others. After one of her songs was recorded by country singer Bill Phillips and went to number six on the country charts, she started recording country songs.
Three years after arriving in Nashville, legendary country singer Porter Wagoner offered her a regular spot on The Porter Wagoner Show. He also convinced RCA Victor to sign her, and her first single actually was a duet, with Wagoner. From 1968 to 1974, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner were a powerhouse duo, always reaching the top ten with their releases. Dolly, however, still wanted success as a solo artist. When she finally achieved fame with “Jolene,” Dolly and Porter performed their last duet concert in 1974, and released their final album in 1975.
In 1974, her song “I will Always Love You,” which was written about her professional break from Porter Wagoner, hit number one on the country charts. Of course, just about everyone has heard Whitney Houston’s version of the song. I’ve included a video, not of “I Will Always Love You” (there is one, though, where she sings to a gaunt Porter Wagoner shortly before he died – too sad to watch). Instead, enjoy the joy of Dolly singing with Kenny Rogers.