Dolly talks one-on-one with WSMV4′s Holly Thompson

The country music icon described her love for Tennessee, what motivates her, and her legacy.
Dolly Parton talks about what motivates her and what she hopes her legacy will be in an interview with WSMV4's Holly Thompson.
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:25 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:04 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - As the nation celebrates Women’s History Month, WSMV4 is highlighting one of Tennessee’s most beloved women, Dolly Parton.

Whether it’s her love of Tennessee, her top destination Dollywood theme park or her storytelling music, “love” is the drumbeat of everything Dolly does.

“I’m proud to be a Tennessee girl,” said Dolly as she expressed her passion for the state. “My love, hopefully, shows all over the place.”

Dolly sat down with WSMV4′s Holly Thompson and talked about her contributions to the Volunteer State, what motivates her and what she hopes her legacy will be.

“I love what I do,” said Dolly. “I never did it for the money, always wanted to make a lot of money, but I would still be doing it if I was just working as a waitress saving my chips to do a demo to send that to Nashville with some of my songs. Surely, I would!”

At 77 years old, the country superstar has no plans of slowing down.

“I will never retire. I will always re-wire. I will reinvent myself all the time,” said the winner of multiple ACM, Grammy and CMA awards.

Part of that reinvention includes a rock album, Rock Star, set to be released later this year that will feature other seasoned veterans, including Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks and P!nk.

Dolly explained each reinvention starts with a single dream.

“You have so many opportunities that come from every dream, a new dream comes from that and a new one from that. So, it just really goes on and on,” said Dolly.

She admitted that big dreams come with big responsibility.

“When I started to make it, I thought if I ever did make it, I wanted to bring something back to my home.” Dolly added, “I wanted to be able to provide jobs for people.”

A desire that has come to fruition as Dollywood and Dolly’s surrounding ventures are some of the largest employers in the state.

Jobs are not the only thing Dolly’s provided.

We sat down with Dolly in 2017 as she raised more than $10 million to help rebuild and assist families affected by the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires.

“That’s the only way you can keep going, you gotta pull together, you know, as a community, as a family and as a country,” said Dolly in that 2017 interview.

That effort is just one example of her many philanthropic gestures. More recently, Dolly donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s efforts to combat Covid-19.

“What is it that brings out your generosity? What’s behind that giving?” asked Thompson.

“I always felt like that when you get in a position to help, that you should have as just a Christian heart, growing up like in my grandfather’s church, and like giving and receiving, they’re both supposed to be done,” answered Dolly.

“You’re so beloved. What do you want your legacy to be?” Thompson asked.

“I want to be remembered as a good person. I’m very proud of the Imagination Library where we give books to children. I think that’ll be as big a part of my legacy as my songwriting and my singing,” Dolly replied.

That singing and songwriting has helped many a fan through a heartbreak.

When asked about the 50th anniversary‌ of her iconic song “I Will Always Love You,” Dolly responded, “It was just the song that just will live forever like ‘9 to 5′ I guess. Fine by me. I need the royalties. Lord knows I need the money. You know my joke, ‘It costs a lot to look this cheap.’”

Dolly’s trademark wit and sense of humor, always leaving her captivated audience with a smile.

WSMV's Holly Thompson sits down one-on-one with Dolly Parton.