Wednesday, December 5, 2012 |
First aired on Q [11/29/12]
Over the past four decades, singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has became one of the most successful country musicians of all time. She's written more than 3,000 songs, and has sold over 100 million albums. She's won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has appeared in numerous television shows and films. Oh, and of course, she owns a theme park called Dollywood.
Parton, 66, has achieved a mind-blowing level of success far beyond anything she dreamt of as the daughter of an impoverished Tennessee tobacco farmer.
"I kinda loved fairy tales," she told CBC's Jian Ghomeshi during a recent interview. "I'd hear fairy tales, my mom used to read from the Bible all those great old stories, and I would picture myself in those faraway places. I'd never been so far away as down the fence at the end of the road or up to the school, but in my mind there was a world out there, and I wanted to see it, I wanted to be part of it."
Her family didn't have much money, but they had a love for music, which they passed onto Parton. She picked up the guitar at age seven and sang for anyone who would listen, the chickens, ducks and pups wandering around the front yard included. She showed promise at an early age, appearing on local TV and radio shows, and performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville at age 13. After graduating high school, Parton decided to really go for her dreams and left home for Nashville.
Aiming high is the theme of her new book Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, which was inspired by the popular commencement speech she gave at the University of Tennessee in 2009. At her high school graduation, Parton remembers being openly laughed at by her schoolmates when they shared their aspirations for the future and she declared her ambition to make it big as a musician.
"I was embarrassed and hurt," she said. "It took me years to realize it was just because I was dreaming big and they're not used to that."
But her resolve never faltered. Part of it was finding strength through her spiritual beliefs. But she was also determined to make the most of every opportunity she had, something she feels is important to pass on to the next generation of dreamers.
"I just felt like God had given me this talent...There are people more talented than me but nobody more willing to work it than I am."