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Dolly Parton invested royalties from her ‘I Will Always Love You’ cover towards Black communities

The country singer invested in Nashville's 12 South neighborhood, then called Sevier Park, home to predominantly Black families and businesses.

Dolly Parton invested royalties from her ‘I Will Always Love You’ cover towards Black communities
Image Source: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum 2016 Medallion Ceremony - Show. NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 16. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum)

The hit song "I Will Always Love You" has gained cult status, primarily because of country star Dolly Parton's amazing vocals and impeccable songwriting. Therefore, when Whitney Houston covered the single for the 1992 film The Bodyguard, it was only propelled to even greater acclaim. Now, it appears that Parton has invested the millions of dollars she earned in royalties for writing the song in 1973 into a building located in a historically Black neighborhood in Nashville. Parton referred to the building as "the house that Whitney built" during a wide-ranging interview on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, The Washington Post reports.


She shared during the conversation with Cohen, "I bought my big office complex down in Nashville, and so I thought, ‘Well, this is a wonderful place to be.'" The office building, a 6,317-square-foot Mission-style complex located in what was then called Sevier Park, is home to predominantly Black families and businesses. At the time, many recording artists did not look toward the Sevier Park neighborhood, now known as 12 South, to establish their businesses. "It was a whole strip mall, and I thought this is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney," Parton went on. "So I just thought, ‘This is great, I’m just going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well.'"


The country star affirmed, "I love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.'" David Ewing, a longtime Nashville historian, highlighted how Parton has been a longtime ally to Black folks. "We’re just hearing now, because of the Black Lives Matter movement, how down for the cause Dolly has always been—even when others in the music industry weren’t," he said. "Dolly Parton could have built and bought any piece of property in Nashville. But you would have to have gone out of your way to buy in the 12 South neighborhood because no realtor would have shown Dolly that lot to buy."


While Parton's version of the song was already a roaring Country music success, reaching number one on Billboard’s country charts twice, Houston's cover catapulted the song to new heights. This resulted in one of the singer's most significant payouts she ever earned. According to an estimation from Forbes last year, Parton earned at least $10 million from the cover in the 1990s. The cover became Billboard’s chart-topper for 14 weeks straight and even helped the soundtrack to The Bodyguard win Album of the Year at the 1993 Grammy Awards.


Unfortunately, though the song was highly successful, it actually did not appear in the movie. Nonetheless, Parton was completely behind Houston's cover of the single. In fact, when she first heard the cover, she was so overwhelmed that she had to pull over to avoid crashing her car. "I was shot so full of adrenaline and energy, I had to pull off because I was afraid that I would wreck, so I pulled over quick as I could to listen to that whole song," Parton stated in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last year. "I could not believe how she did that. I mean, how beautiful it was that my little song had turned into that, so that was a major, major thing."


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