Country Artist and Actress
Born on Jan. 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tenn., into a poor family that would eventually include 12 children, Dolly Parton learned early to escape the hardships of life through her vivid and far-ranging imagination. Before she learned to read and write, she was "making up" her own songs. She got her first guitar when she was 8 and began singing on a Knoxville, Tenn., radio station at age 11. That same year, she made her first recording on Gold Band Records, a tiny independent label. She made a name for herself locally while still in high school, but she dreamed of a bigger stage. The day after she graduated in 1964, she moved to Nashville.
Her first charting records on Monument Records included "Dumb Blonde" and "Something Fishy," both in 1967. At about this time, Porter Wagoner was looking for a new "girl singer" for his syndicated television show. Parton accepted the job in 1967, signed with RCA Records in 1968 and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1969. However, she left Wagoner's show in 1974, as her solo releases -- such as "Joshua," "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" -- were out-charting their collaborations. After their split, Parton wrote the song "I Will Always Love You" for Wagoner, and it reached No. 1 for the first time in 1974.
As a solo artist, Parton also snared the CMA's female vocalist award in 1975 and 1976 and won the entertainer trophy in 1978. Still, her TV variety series lasted ...