Dolly Parton has been one of America’s sweethearts – a country icon for the ages – for decades. But where did she grow up?
Dolly Parton was born in Sevier County, Tennessee. She didn’t leave this area until the age of eighteen, when she moved to Nashville, Tennessee. By 2020, the internationally-recognized country star still lived in the state.
Read on to learn more about Dolly Parton’s upbringing.
Dolly Parton has led one of the most incredible careers in music history. She first entered the scene way back in 1956, and has been performing ever since. However, it wasn’t always success and riches for the beloved country icon.
When she was born in 1949, Dolly became part of an enormous, impoverished family. They lived in a one room cabin in rural Tennessee. Although she was the fourth child born to her parents Avie and Robert, she’d ultimately be one of twelve siblings.
It wasn’t long after Dolly’s birth that the family relocated, to a nearby farm. In interviews, Dolly has stated that this is where the majority of her most cherished childhood memories stem from. It’s also where she started to write her first songs. In a way that describes the local area, her first ever song was titled, “My Tennessee Mountain Home”.
There were many tracks penned and performed by Dolly Parton that explained her remarkably poor roots. In a 2019 article, it was detailed that Dolly and her siblings would sleep three to four in a bed, with the younger children urinating on the others.
She expanded on the dire nature of this circumstance, explaining: “That was the only warm thing we knew in the winter time. That was almost a pleasure to get peed on because it was so cold.” This poverty would have ramifications for almost every aspect of their life.
Predominantly, health became an issue. When she was a child, Dolly suffered an accident that almost caused the loss of three toes on one foot. Her family banded together to try and help Dolly, with her mother literally sewing the toes back on. They simply couldn’t afford any medical assistance.
Finding Her Voice
From as young as six years old, Dolly began performing in church. When she turned eight, she received her first real guitar. Her voice instantly became known locally, and she started performing on radio and television talent shows.
By the time Parton was thirteen years old, she was recording her first single with a real record label. This was when she would really get a taste of success, appearing at the Grand Ole Opry. This venue is considered the most iconic and treasured stage in all of country music.
In 1964, Parton relocated to Nashville, in the heart of Tennessee. She began churning out top singles, working with her uncle Bill to write many of her earlier, most iconic tracks. It wouldn’t be long before Parton started discovering international fame, centered on Nashville, Tennessee.
She was offered a regular spot on a television show, and began a duet with the host, Porter Wagoner. The two were inseparable, launching many tracks together over the coming years. Throughout the seventies, some of Parton’s best work would be released, still from Nashville in her home state of Tennessee.
The tracks Jolene, I Will Always Love You and Love Is Like A Butterfly all released in the early to mid seventies. You can hear the former track on YouTube.
Dolly Parton would go on to become one of the most decorated and most highly awarded artists in country history. She’d be a world-renowned philanthropist and activist, and would be inducted into countless Halls of Fame.
Although her early years in Tennessee may have been studded with poverty and struggle, she certainly broke through, carving out a name for herself. Her incredible voice, great songwriting skills and iconic, bouffant and heavily-made up image would be forever recognizable.