Dolly Parton Draws On Deep Faith, Gospel Roots In ‘Sweet’ New Rendition

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Dolly Parton defines the essence of the multidimensional artist.  Over more than six decades in country music, she continues to create a growing catalog of classic songs.  Not even the ageless singer-songwriter herself knows the exact number– only that it’s likely between 3000-4000 odes to her credit. When a trove of Parton songs came to the attention of her devoted team, another fascinating discovery came to light.

Dolly Parton still prefers the old-fashioned ways of writing, such as pen and paper.  The singer-songwriter famously carries a Dictaphone with her, too.   She doesn’t want to lose any great ideas and sings straight into the office machine.  From early on until today, Parton also favors recording on cassette tape.  Her investigative team uncovered that “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” were together on one of those stashed-away tapes.  It’s an unparalleled wonder to find any artist who creates two ballads etched onto every heart, and etched into recorded posterity, as only Dolly Parton can do, in the same day.

A rare Parton treasure

Country Music Alley uncovered in early January of 2021 that Dolly Parton plans to be on hand to surprise herself in 2045, when a “secret song” stored away in a treasure box carved by her uncle, Bill Owens, will be opened and shared with the world, providing the recording holds up!  No one doubts for a minute that Dolly Parton will still be radiant in her beautiful smile at 99,  singing along to her own song!

Fortunately, the latest musical treat from Dolly Parton is no secret.  On the contrary, it’s a new rendition of the classic song of faith that she and so many of her fans know by heart.  As People per MSN confirms. Parton joins with fond, familiar bluegrass friends to forge a tender, new interpretation of “In The Sweet By and By.”  More than taking listeners to church, as Dolly Parton frequently does through the genuine stories and struggles of her life, she takes everyone on a mental vacation to serenity.

Dolly Parton never forgets old friends

Longtime fans know the story of Dolly Parton’s faith by heart.  She often extols her mother, Avie Lee, for the sense of spiritual intuition that guides her daughter, Dolly Rebecca, to this day.  Parton also insists that her family’s musical heritage derives from her maternal side, just as she credits her father, Robert Lee Parton, for passing on an unquenchable work ethic and keen skills in negotiating trades and bargains for his family’s essential needs through their hardscrabble existence in Sevier County, Tennessee.  Nearly from birth, Dolly Parton and her siblings sang in their grandfather’s church.

Faith and friends provided sustenance through hard times.  Providing a living and meaningful support for those she calls “My people” are still driving forces for Dolly Parton.  Dollywood is more than a perennial vacation getaway for her legions of fans. The expansive venue, like many other projects, proves Parton’s commitment that giving begins at home, and grows neighbor-to-neighbor.

Jerry Salley is hardly a stranger to any artist in the country music, bluegrass, or Christian music world.  Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Brad Paisley, and Toby Keith are only a few of the heavy-hitters who recorded Salley’s run songs, such as “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain.”  The musician and songwriter is also a six-time Dove Award-nominee, and in 1990, Salley took the honor for Inspirational Song of the Year for “His Strength Is Perfect,” co-written with Steven Curtis Chapman.

Lately, Dolly Parton struck up collaborations with new friends like the best-selling writer, James Patterson, in creating her thriller-fiction debut, Run Rose Run.   Nonetheless, whenever Dolly gets a request from a good friend, she never dilly-dallies with a response.  Her answer made a dream come true for Jerry Salley and a slew of bluegrass and gospel music lovers.

A spiritual stroll with Dolly

“Dolly was at the very top,” Jerry Salley gushes in describing his dream list of performers for the album, Country Faith Bluegrass.  Salley produces the collection of best-loved songs, along with lending superlative musicianship.  What starts as a Dolly Parton wish-list soon turns to reality in the effort.

Production on the project started in 2020.  Quite understandably, Dolly Parton, pandemic hero, prefers not to put herself at risk of exposure.  Still, she puts her mark on “In the Sweet By and By” in a pure, unforgettable version. After a call to a “dear friend” in Dolly’s offices,  Parton offers a never-released track of her singing the standard, with only one guitar. Salley, with her approval, arranges the instrumentation and voices of himself, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Bradley Walker, to become “a bluegrass band” centered around “her beautiful voice.”

The touching result is “reminiscent of the Jordanaires,” as Salley says.  No voice approaches the sweet and simple plaintive tenor of Dolly Parton.  Her expression of faith through song is born from lifelong seeds of belief.  Ultimately, “Dolly loved the recording,” the producer confirms. The lyric video for the new rendition takes listeners through nature, truly an animated “God’s creation” and to the core of this artist’s soul.

The video’s scenes open with Dolly Parton’s emblem of the butterfly in blue, then transforming into clouds, mountains, and the valleys resembling her home place, including the tall pines.  A kindly bear drinks from a stream, and a deer pauses for respite at a lake.  The seasons change with the song’s refrains, ending with a winter scene. Cardinals and berries wrap a snowy pine like a Christmas tree.  In 3 and a half minutes, Dolly Parton provides a calming break of reassurance to any weary mind.

Gospel means good things for Dolly

This most recent rendition of “In the Sweet By and By” is far from the only time Dolly Parton graces the gospel classic.  Notably, she includes the song on her 2001 acclaimed, Grammy-winning album, Little SparrowLong before the millennial era, she sang with her siblings on the same song in the mid-80s on TVs Gospel Memories.

Dolly does more than sing the old favorites.  Just in March of this year, she and Zach Williams took Grammy award honors for “There Was Jesus.”  “That particular song– was more important to me than winning an award,” Dolly Parton assured.  She also made time to sing gospel with her friend, Leslie Jordan.  Parton teased that she and the Will & Grace star should make a plan for singing together live once safety allows.

Whether she’s reaching back in time or urging hope for today, faith is constantly alive for Dolly Parton.

Keep up with more new music and news on your favorite artists with Country Music Alley– come back often!

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