Dolly Parton Opens Up About Heartbreaking Realities from Her Past

Few are unfamiliar with the name Dolly Parton, and for good reason. The legendary performer has been a superstar for decades, and despite her age, she shows no signs of slowing down. At the age of 18, Parton had already set her sights on stardom – a dream she quickly turned into reality. Today, she continues to live that dream.

Dolly Parton’s childhood was far from easy. Growing up as one of 12 children, the family faced financial challenges. Despite the limited resources, Dolly always aspired to look good and found inspiration in the style of the local woman known as the “town tramp.”

However, her glamorous aspirations did not sit well with a family member. In a candid revelation to The Guardian, Dolly Parton now discloses that her grandfather subjected her to physical abuse due to her appearance.

Born on January 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains, Dolly Parton grew up in modest circumstances. Music became a central part of her family life, with her mother singing and playing the guitar. Dolly’s early exposure to music occurred during her performances in church, where she developed a passion for the guitar.

“Music was such a large part of our whole family,” Parton recalled. “All of my mama’s people were musical. They all played some sort of musical instrument. Of course, I took my music really seriously, and I was always plucking along on somebody’s instrument — whatever they would leave lying around or whenever my family would come. But I always loved the guitar.”

Music and family were intertwined for the Partons, and Dolly’s uncles played a crucial role in her musical journey. She received her own guitar from one of her uncles, and by the age of 10, she had performed on local television and radio stations. At 13, she made her debut on the national country radio station Grand Ole Opry, earning about $20 a week.

Dolly Parton’s interest in fashion has been evident throughout her life, captivating fans with her distinctive looks and outfits. However, her fascination with clothing and appearances during her youth sparked disapproval from her father, grandfather, and a preacher.

As a young girl, Dolly admired a local woman known for her bold fashion choices. Despite facing criticism from some for her unconventional style, Dolly embraced the idea of looking different and glamorous, even if it meant going against societal norms.

While her father didn’t object to it, tragically, Dolly’s grandfather physically abused her due to her choice of appearance. Dolly Parton revealed, “I was willing to pay for it. I’m very sensitive; I didn’t like being disciplined – it hurt my feelings so bad to be scolded or whipped or whatever. But sometimes there’s just that part of you that’s willing, if you want something bad enough, to go for it.”

Years later, in 2011, she penned a song titled “The Sacrifice,” which encapsulates her journey. The lyrics convey, “I was gonna be rich no matter how much it cost / And I was going to win no matter how much I lost / Down through the years I’ve kept my eye on the prize / And you ask if it’s worth the sacrifice.” Dolly Parton believes it was worth it for her.

Dolly has consistently stayed true to herself, even when record label executives wanted her to adopt a more conventional appearance. She emphasized, “I’ve always been true to myself. That was what my mama always used to say: to thine own self be true. I put a lot of stock in that. Everything I do, whether it’s my personality, how I conduct myself and business, or whatever, if I do it my way, according to what I understand and believe, there’s a strength in that. You can think, ‘I can stand by this, I can live by this.'”

While Dolly cared about people’s opinions, she “never cared so much that it keeps me from being me.” Despite facing challenges, she graduated high school as the first in her family to do so. At 18 in 1964, she decided to fully focus on her music career, leaving home for Nashville, the heart of the country music scene.

In Nashville, Dolly swiftly rose to stardom, collaborating with Porter Wagoner on “The Porter Wagoner Show” and releasing numerous country hits. She signed with RCA Records, achieving her first No. 1 country hit with “Joshua” in 1971. The iconic “Jolene” followed, becoming one of the biggest hits of the 20th century.

Dolly Parton’s influence extended beyond music. In the 1980s, she ventured into the film industry, starring in hits like “9 to 5” alongside Jane Fonda. Additionally, she opened the amusement park Dollywood in 1986.

Throughout her career, Dolly Parton has written over 3,000 songs, including hits like “I Will Always Love You,” “The Seeker,” “Love Is Like a Butterfly,” and “All I Can Do.” With over 100 million albums sold, 25 No. 1 country chart-toppers, and eight Grammy Awards, she continues to be a global superstar.

In matters of love, Dolly Parton met her husband, Carl Dean, in 1964 outside a laundromat in Nashville, Tennessee. Despite initial rejection, their love story blossomed, leading to a private wedding ceremony in Ringgold, Georgia, in May 1966. The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2016 by renewing their vows.

However, the couple decided against having children, with Dolly citing her career as the primary reason. In 2016, they marked their 50th anniversary with a private ceremony, emphasizing their enduring friendship and respect for each other. As Dolly Parton turns 77, her remarkable career and love story continue to inspire.