Dolly Parton reveals her secret to stardom and mastering the art of commanding respect

Oct 15, 2023
Dolly Parton has revealed how she braved the challenges of the music industry to become a country music icon. Source: Getty Images

With a career spanning over 50 years, Dolly Parton can only be described as a country music legend. At the age of 77, the Tennessee-born starlet is still going strong and has no plans to fade into the background.

Her 2022 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spurred her to record her first rock album, titled Rockstar, which is slated for release on November 17. She has also written a a new book, titled Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, due to be published on October 19 that documents her life and career through her distinctive clothes and costumes.

In the lead-up to the release of both projects, Parton sat down with The Guardian, where she revealed how she managed to navigate through the often cutthroat music industry in order to become a country music icon.

When asked what it was like to be a female artist in the 60’s and 70’s, Parton was emphatic that she always remained true to herself despite facing resistance from men in the industry.

“I would just say, ‘I think I have something that we can all make some money off of, and get over the fact that I’m a girl here, because my mind is on something else,'” Parton said.

“I always knew how to manoeuvre in a crowd of men. I never slept with anybody to get ahead, because to me it wouldn’t be worth it. That don’t usually work in the long haul either,” she continued.

Whenever facing harassment, Parton would try to be diplomatic but wasn’t afraid to fight back either.

“Oh, I did, but I always knew how to put a man in his place without making him feel bad. If sometimes that don’t work, I’m also strong as a boy – I know how to push you off and get the hell away from you,” she said.

Parton is known for her distinctive sense of style but her father and grandfather hated the way that she dressed. She was also told by record label executives to tone down her look but once again, Parton resisted.

“I’ve always been true to myself. That was what my mama always used to say: to thine own self be true. I put a lot of stock in that,” she explained.

“Everything I do, whether it’s my personality, how I conduct myself and business, or whatever, if I do it my way, according to what I understand and believe, there’s a strength in that.”

Something she also stands by in her career is remaining mostly apolitical in her artistry.

“I ain’t that good a Christian to think that I am so good that I can judge people. That’s God’s job, not mine. So as far as politics, I hate politics. Hate politics,” she explained.

“I try to just be a decent human being, try to use love as my great tool and weapon. I try to leave my heart, my eyes, my ears open, and my mouth closed, when I know it’s not the right thing to be doing.”

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