DOLLY IS THE ONLY NON-PROBLEMATIC CELEBRITY https://t.co/osjfsYQPSO
— War Queer ???????? (@SJGrunewald) August 13, 2020
From Billboard, “Dolly Parton Steers Her Empire Through the Pandemic”:
… Many people depend on the Dollywood Company, which is the largest employer in the rural, tourism-dependent Sevier County and whose main attractions — its flagship park and Splash Country — draw over 3 million visitors annually. Keeping people employed and paid is a particular priority for Parton, who continues to pay her band, even though she hasn’t toured since 2016, as well as her personal staffers, during the pandemic. But without money coming into the park, the Dollywood Company put all but a small team of the properties’ 4,000 full-time and seasonal workers on furlough.
By June, most of those furloughed full-time employees went back to work as Parton properties reopened with limited capacities, mandatory mask requirements and other social distancing measures; most of the dinner theaters and restaurants reopened in July as state laws allowed. But Parton is frank about the situation, even as she dispenses some of her trademark optimism. “We certainly are not going to have a great year this year,” she says over Skype from Nashville one morning in early July. “Hopefully by coming back, we’ll pick up some stuff that we’ve lost. All of the things that I’m involved in are on hold, even my production companies and the movies — everything [took] a big hit. But I still believe, still trust God, and I’m still hoping for the best.”
Making tough calls — about her companies, her employees and her brand — is how Parton, 74, spends much of her time. She has a schedule resembling that of a tech CEO with a cult following: Often starting at 4 a.m., Parton and her longtime manager, Danny Nozell, review what her team calls the “Ask Dolly” list, a log of opportunities and decisions for Parton to weigh in on that Nozell keeps to no more than 50 items to present in one sitting. Before the pandemic, they would often discuss the list over breakfast at her Nashville home, trading off cooking duties to prepare the usual menu of cheesy grits, bacon, eggs and country ham. Now, Nozell faxes Parton the list to discuss by phone — the first of half a dozen phone conversations the two have on any given day.
In the 56 years since she took a bus to Nashville to pursue stardom the day after her high school graduation, Parton has shaped the history of country music. She has 25 No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart — the most of any female artist — and is also the only artist to have a top 20 hit on that chart in every decade from the 1960s to 2010s. Since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began tracking U.S. sales electronically in 1991, she has sold over 11 million albums, and her songs have received over a billion on-demand streams…
The breadth of her offerings is staggering, but fitting: Parton’s cross-cultural, multigenerational fandom is unlike that of any other celebrity. (Nielsen ranked her the No. 1 most marketable country artist in the world in 2017, the last year of its N-Score survey.) “How can she appeal to so many different kinds of people who we’re told should really hate each other, but they all agree on her? That’s really the big question that we tried to figure out,” says Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC Studios’ nine-part 2019 podcast Dolly Parton’s America. “We talked to these fervent Dolly fans, from Appalachian queer kids to Brooklyn hipsters to [conservative] people in the South. Everyone sees her as theirs.” His ultimate explanation? “I say this with humility and as someone who is not a believer: There’s something very Christ-like about her.”
That has never felt more true than in 2020. During the pandemic, Parton has also taken on the role of comforter-in-chief: She donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s COVID-19 research fund, recorded handwashing videos and bedtime stories for children, released a soothing new song called “When Life Is Good Again” and offered social media pep talks about standing together. Over Skype, she is warm and quick to crack a joke, decked out in full Dolly glam: a flowing blond wig with bangs and tendrils, a custom-made, high-collared black top with gold buttons running along the side. Yet she becomes gravely serious when she talks about her mission to make as many people as she can feel as good as possible. “As the scripture says, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ So I look at my life with that every day and think that God expects it of me,” she says. “I expect it of myself, and I think people expect it of me. If I can be an inspiration, then I want to be that. That makes me feel good… ”
— Dr. Vanessa M Holden (@drvholden) August 13, 2020