STATE OF TENNESSEE AND SEVIER COUNTY HONORS DOLLY PARTON WITH UNVEILING OF NEW “TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS” MARKER IN GLOBAL MUSIC ICON’S HOMETOWN
New Marker Enhances Visitor Experience in Downtown Sevierville
Sevierville’s beloved hometown superstar, Dolly Parton, was honored with the unveiling of a new “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker. Representatives for Parton, along with city and state officials, gathered at the Sevier County Courthouse to celebrate the milestone achievement.
Distinguished as a singer, songwriter, actor, businesswoman and philanthropist, Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time and among the best-selling country artists of the post-World War II era. She opened one of the country’s most-visited attractions, Dollywood, and wrote one of the top-selling songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You.”
“I want to thank Commissioner Ezell and his team at the State of Tennessee,” said Dolly Parton. “I am proud to be from Sevier County and Sevierville and this Music Pathways sign honors me, my family and my history there.”
“When you think of Tennessee and music, there are key figures and places that often to come mind, and Dolly is one of them,” said Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell, “I couldn’t think of a better way to honor her great musical legacy and all that she has done not only for music across the state but tourism as well. Dollywood is a key attraction for visitors to come and experience from across the world, and it is a great privilege to recognize the work and success of a true Tennessee icon.”
Located directly by Parton’s bronze statue on the Sevier County Courthouse lawn, the new marker commemorates Parton’s rich musical heritage in Sevier County and across Tennessee. It adds to a flourishing presence of tributes that lure Parton fans from across the world to her hometown. While in Sevierville, guests can follow Parton’s footsteps and visit the spots that played a part in the global sensation’s childhood, including:
- A mural depicting a young Dolly Parton enjoying a burger at Red’s Café (a favorite Sevierville restaurant during her youth),
- the Parton inspired butterfly mural on Bruce Street,
- the bronze statue that depicts a younger Parton strumming on a guitar
- and her newly installed “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker
Among Parton’s accolades are nine Grammys (including one for Lifetime Achievement), 10 Country Music Association Awards, seven Academic of Country Music Awards, and three American Music Association Awards. She has also been nominated for two Emmys, one tony award and two Academy Awards (Oscars), one of them for her song “9 to 5.” Although she is regarded as a country singer and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, her flamboyant personality has endeared her to many who do not consider themselves country fans.
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on Jan. 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge in rural Sevier County, the fourth of 12 children. She drew on her family’s impoverished circumstances for several songs, notably “Coat of Many Colors.” Her earliest public appearances were in church. By age 10, she was on Cas Walker’s “Farm and Home Hour” in Knoxville. Her first record was released in 1959.
The day after her high school graduation in 1964, Parton went to Nashville and found initial success as a songwriter. In 1967, country star Porter Wagoner brought her onto his television show and began producing her RCA Victor Records, both as a solo performer and his duet partner. Her first No. 1 country hit, “Joshua,” came in 1971. After another No. 1 hit, “Jolene,” Parton left Wagoner’s television show. Her 1974 No. 1 song, “I Will Always Love You,” in February of that year, was viewed as her confirming her intention to sever all her contractual obligations to Wagoner.
Managed out of Hollywood, Parton began broadening her appeal. Her 1977 album Here You Come Again became a No. 1 country album and Top 20 pop album. She starred in the movie “9 to 5,” one of the all-time highest-grossing comedies, and her title song topped the country and pop charts. In 1983, she scored her second and last No. 1 pop hit with “Islands In the Stream,” a duet with Kenny Rogers.
In 1922, Whitney Houston’s recording of “I Will Always Love You” spent four weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts and is ranked among the Top 10 top-selling singles of all time.
Parton stretched her career in several directions, most notably in launching Dollywood. She has expanded the scope of its attractions, and the Dollywood Foundation has worked to offer scholastic opportunities and medical services to underserved communities.
Parton’s later recording career featured a return to her Appalachian and bluegrass roots, including the 1999 Grammy-winning Best Bluegrass Album, The Grass is Blue. In 2015, she narrated and wrote the story for another venture rooted in her upbringing, “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” on NBC-TV. She continues to be actively involved in music and philanthropic ventures. Her Imagination Library has given more than 100 million books to children around the world.
ABOUT TENNESSEE MUSIC PATHWAYS
Tennessee Music Pathways, launched by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in 2018, is an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s rich musical heritage. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, Tennessee Music Pathways stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks from the seven genres of music that call Tennessee home. Join the conversation on social using #TNmusicpathways.