Dolly Parton Says She Was “Laughed At” For Being Too Country When She Moved To Nashville: “They Thought I Was Dumb”

Dolly Parton country music
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The joke was certainly on them…

Dolly Parton has made a career out of being exactly who she is and making timeless country music that has stood the test of time, and it’s hard to argue that in 2023, she’s not at the top of her game even still.

I mean, she has all sorts of businesses ventures, runs a nonprofit Imagination Library and owns her massive Dollywood theme park, in addition to still making music and doing all sorts of appearances and commercials.

There isn’t a more universally recognized or beloved figure in pop culture in the world, I’m convinced.

It’s pretty unbelievable, but when Dolly first moved to Nashville in 1964 immediately after graduating from High School, she felt very out of place in the big city… which Music City certainly was compared to the Smoky Mountain holler she grew up in with her parents and all 11 of her siblings.

In a 1975 interview with The Austin American Statesman, Dolly admitted that she had it made up in her mind that, no matter what, she was going to make it, and she never once ever even “thought about giving up”:

“I never dreamed anything except that things would go well and I’d be what I wanted to be — a star. I wouldn’t accept anything else.

I’ve been disappointed a lot of times but I’ve never been discouraged. I never once thought about giving it up. I don’t believe I ever did.”

She eventually got hired as a writer at Monument Records with her Uncle Bill Owens, though, because she was so young at the time, her voice was very high-pitched so she was made to sing rockabilly for a while.

She added that she was “so country” she didn’t even fit in in Nashville, saying she knew “they” (I’m assuming she means record label exec and other music industry professionals) thought she was “dumb.”

It’s funny to think about now, because she’s clearly such a brilliant songwriter and business woman, but I also think it’s pretty damn safe to say that Dolly got the last laugh (like she usually does).

If I had to guess, I would venture to say that only fueled her passion and made her want it more:

“My voice is so small and high-pitched and sounded like a kid so they had me singing rockabilly.

I was so country myself I didn’t fit in. I knew they thought I was dumb. I wrote the same as I do now, country, but they arranged it different.

They laughed at the way I talked. I took it personal; it bothered me.”

I love that she never let what anyone said or thought about her stop her from pursuing her big dreams, always standing in the convictions of who she was and what she believed in.

She worked her ass off to achieve her dreams, and deserves every bit of the incredible success she’s realized:

“I’ve worked hard to put wings on my dreams. I’ve got big dreams. They’ve got big wings.”

And at 77 years young, Dolly is about to see another dream come true when she releases her very first full-blown rock album Rockstar on November 17th.

The record, inspired in large part by her husband Carl Dean and his love of the genre, features an absolutely all-star cast full of rock icons and legends on a good majority of the songs.

She’s already put out several really cool singles and collaborations with some of the biggest names in music, from “Magic Man (Carl Version) ft. Ann Wilson,” ‘“Bygones ft. Rob Halford with special guests Nikki Sixx & John 5,” and a mashup Queen’s multi-Platinum mega hits “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You.”

She even got The Beatles back together… enough said.

Not to mention, Dolly is due to have several of the songs featured on upcoming Monday Night Football broadcasts, including last night when her duet with Chris Stapleton of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” debuted. 

I want to be Dolly Parton when I grow up…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock