Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey go way back. The country music legend and the television and talk show mogul have been gal pals for decades. The singer even convinced Oprah to sing with her on “This Little Light of Mine” in the late 80s on The Dolly Show.
These days Oprah has a new gig, her Apple TV+ series, The Oprah Conversations, airing Fridays on the subscription platform. There’s almost no subject that the iconic country music singer-songwriter puts off-limits. Dolly Parton even discusses her deeply personal views on parenthood and her path to career success.
Early on, Dolly Parton had a sense of destiny
“I’ve made sacrifices,” Dolly Parton points out with conviction. Winfrey posed the question of whether the rewards of being Dolly Parton had outweighed the difficult trade-offs.
In a video snippet shared on Today, the “9 to 5″ singer expresses no doubt that “I believe that I know what I’m supposed to do.” The superstar’s mission involved much more than writing ageless songs. Dolly lives by a creed to “Do something, Say something, Be something.” She wants to lift someone else up and glorify God every day. She feels sure that her destiny didn’t include having her own family.
Freedom brought added success to Dolly Parton
“Since I had no kids, and my husband [Carl Dean] was pretty independent, I had freedom,” Parton relates. Dolly Parton took the constant work ethic of her poor but rich in love family to heart. She has hardly wasted a breath in idle time. She takes after her daddy, Robert Lee Parton, in the executive boardroom. Her business savvy keeps her on the good side of the bottom line. Her mother’s soft and spiritual intuition inspires her to always give back.
“A big part of my whole success was that I was free to work,” Dolly reiterates with no regrets. “I didn’t have children because I believe God didn’t mean for me to have children, so everybody’s kids could be mine.”
Dolly is a mom to millions
In a very real sense, Dolly Parton has adopted all the children of the world through her Imagination Library, which has delivered almost 150 million books to children around the world. The books come directly into homes, in the child’s name, to promote literacy as a legacy to her father. Parton constantly praises her dad as the smartest man she ever knew, but he never learned to read. He did live to see the start of his daughter’s magnificent literacy mission. It’s no wonder that children adore Dolly Parton as “the book lady” and “Mother Goose.” (She loves dressing up as the character.) Many in her young global family cry when first grade looms. They cannot bear the thought of losing their monthly books at the door.
“If I hadn’t had the freedom to work, I would not have been able to do all the things I’ve done,” Dolly Parton asserts. Countless children would have lost the precious gift of holding their very own book and learning to treasure it pages. Dolly Parton understands divine purpose in life, and she made the powerful decision to invest her purpose in others.
Dolly Parton puts her dollars where they make the most difference
Miley Cyrus happens to be the goddaughter of Dolly Parton, and the outspoken singer-songwriter and actress is constantly amazed at the music legend’s kindness. “How many of these hats does she have?” Cyrus asked herself after observing Parton give away hundreds of the souvenirs in a single day. Miley recounted the experience in a September Today feature.
Dolly does more than toss hats to her admirers. She always finds a moment to listen and offer a caring touch. Her connection to thousands “my people” as she would put it, impacted by the spring 2017 Tennessee wildfires was borne out by her pledge of $1000 per month or six months to families most devastated by the flames through her My People Fund.
When Hannah Dennison, Dolly Parton’s niece underwent cancer treatments at Vanderbilt University’s Children’s Hospital, the singer got a firsthand look at the research under Dr. Naji Abumrad. In 2018, Parton and her niece dedicated a butterfly garden in Hannah’s name in celebration of our 30th birthday and a sizable donation from her aunt. When the pandemic siege began, Dolly Parton did more than voice support for Dr. Abumrad and Vanderbilt– she wrote a million-dollar check to help develop therapeutic treatments until the vaccine for the virus widely available. As always, Dolly Parton was right on target in noting that “We got more money than we got time right now.”
Going under the knife doesn’t bother Dolly Parton at all
People got another look from the Dolly Parton talk with Oprah, and doctors came up again. Thankfully, this discussion wasn’t centered on life-and-death, but instead, on how Dolly intends to stay agelessly gorgeous as the years roll on.
“I’m gonna look like a cartoon,” Dolly Parton teases with Oprah. She insists that she will take all the benefit that lighting and makeup can provide. “I’ll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me to,” the 74-year-old contends.
The singer also gives the Gabor sisters as her beauty role models, but elaborates that beauty and youth are “about what comes from inside you.” Dolly Parton has a mantra to look for the “God-light” in every person she meets. In the same way, the ageless entertainer encourages that “you gotta shine from within.” The inner attitude provokes her youthful energy.
“I ain’t never gonna get old because I ain’t got time to be old,” Dolly Parton declares. “I can’t stop long enough to grow old.”
May her words ever be true.