Known for her curvy figure and amazing singing voice, Dolly Parton is a shrewd business woman and an inspiring philanthropist.
Born in Tennesee in 1946 she was the youngest of 12 children. Money for them was always an issue but they had their music. Her mother sang and played the guitar. When Dolly was ten she was given her first guitar.
It wasn’t long after that that she was writing her own music and performing at the Grand Ol’ Opry. In addition to early success as a soloist, she went on to perform in a duo act before going back to having a solo career.
From the very beginning, she safeguarded the rights to her music. She said, “As soon as I could, I started my own publishing company, got my own record label. I think it’s important, if you can, to keep all of your goods close to home. Where you can control them and know what’s happening with them.”
This was a good philosophy for Dolly. She made millions off of her catalog and acting roles before her hit song I will Always Love You was redone by Whitney Houston. Even after that version, the top of the charts Dolly got a piece of the royalties.
Dolly has always been a philanthropist, often it has been anonymous. She has donated money towards Cancer and Aids/HIV research including pledging $500,000 towards cancer research.
Her most notable charity, however, is the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, she donates a book a month to an enrolled child from their birth to Kindergarten. This charity currently assists over 1,600 communities internationally. Through the Dollywood Foundation, she set up the “My People Fund” which donates $1,000 a month to people who lost their homes in a massive forest fire that was started by a couple of teenage boys. She also offers scholarships to people from the smokey mountain region.
- The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson This Shakespeare retelling that interweaves blues with the story of a young girl and boy who are trying to find themselves.
- The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay A look at what it was like to be a young girl in the show business in the 1920s.
- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen This really and gritty look at life in the circus during the 1930s.