With an angelic voice and a heart of gold to match, Parton's legacy is far greater than the incredible contributions she's made to country music.
Musical icon and national treasure, Dolly Parton, turned a glowing 75-years-old on Tuesday and she marked the occasion by calling on her fans to be kind and compassionate to those around them. "I always encourage people to dream big but I also take great care to follow that up with the message to work hard. We can't just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day. Love too often gets buried in a world of hurt and fear. We have to work to dig it out so we can share it with our family, our friends, and our neighbors. So today, January 19th, let's get to unearthing love. Love is more contagious than a virus so let your best self shine in a glorious light and others will be inspired by you," Parton wrote in an open letter to her fans.
This year my birthday wish is a call for kindness. We can’t just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day. Love too often gets buried in a world of hurt and fear. So today, January 19th, let’s get to unearthing love ❤️ https://t.co/CTShxNkbRq pic.twitter.com/0UFiMCyM9D— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) January 19, 2021
This letter is exactly the kind of thing that sets the "Jolene" a league apart from her peers in the entertainment industry. With an angelic voice and a heart of gold to match, Parton's legacy is far greater than the incredible contributions she's made to country music. A force of nature in every sense of the expression, she has vowed us time and again with her heartwarming personality and endless philanthropic deeds. So as she marks yet another year of being the badass fairy godmother that she is, let's take a look at just 8 reasons why she is an absolute national treasure:
Born in Tennessee in 1946, Parton has never been one to mince her words. Despite her status as a celebrity which comes with a plethora of unspoken rules, she is unafraid to speak her mind on any subject, and — lucky for us fans — this has birthed countless great quotes of wisdom and truth over the years. "I never think of myself as a star because, as somebody once said, 'A star is nothing but a big ball of gas' — and I don't want to be that," she told Billboard in 2014.
Last year in April, Parton announced that she was making a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University's Coronavirus research. "My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who's been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the Coronavirus for a cure," she said at the time. Speaking to TODAY in November, she said: "I'm just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted it to do good. Evidently, it is."
The Imagination Library was founded by the singer in 1995 in honor of her father. Parton aimed to "foster a love of reading among her county's preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month." The program soon took off and is now one of the largest literary programs globally.
If God is a woman, she probably bears some resemblance to Parton. Aside from dedicating her money, time, and influence to make the world a better place for one and all, one could say that the "9 to 5" singer is also kind of omnipresent. i.e. her name pops up in the least expected places but always for all the good reasons. Did you know that Parton was an uncredited executive producer on the 1997-2003 series Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Yup. According to TODAY, Sandollar Entertainment, which the singer co-founded in 1986, is a listed producer of Buffy.
Parton recently saved her 9-year-old co-star's life while filming the Netflix holiday special Christmas on the Square. "We were on set, and I was at the hot chocolate station, and they said go back to your beginning positions," the young actor, Talia Hill, recounted in an interview. "So there was a vehicle moving, and I was walking, and then somebody grabbed me and pulled me back, and I looked up and it was Dolly Parton."
Parton has never shied away from sharing her true self with her fans around the world. Although she is widely associated with her bling, fringe, big wigs, and dazzling showbiz style, the singer has also given her the world many opportunities to know her as a person and not just a celeb.
When massive fires swept through Sevier County on November 28, 2016, the singer asked the Foundation to lead the effort to distribute $1,000 to the families who lost their primary residence every month for six months. "In two weeks, the Foundation created The My People Fund, designed the distribution process, and implemented the distribution. In May of 2017, the Foundation concluded the distribution with the announcement that over 411,000,000 had been raised and given to the families who lost their homes. Additional funds raised also provided one-time scholarships to high school seniors whose homes were lost to the fires," The Dollywood Foundation states.
While we could probably gush about Parton's philanthropy, life lessons, and fashion for years, it is her music that always takes the crown. Over the course of her career, she has composed over 5000 songs, received nearly 200 industry awards, and sold more than 100 million records around the world. Happy birthday, Dolly!