Dolly Parton

Johnny Mercer Award

Dolly Parton has been a pioneer of the country music genre, blending country and pop to write and record some of the most popular and successful music in that or any genre. Parton originally wrote the epic song, “I Will Always Love You” for syndicated television show star Porter Wagoner, and it reached No. 1 for the first time in 1974. As a solo artist, she also garnered the Country Music Association’s female vocalist award in 1975 and 1976, and won the “Entertainer of the Year” trophy in 1978. Her hit “Here You Come Again” spent five weeks at No. 1 in 1978.

Parton expanded into film, starring in the 1980’s hit film, 9 to 5. The title song earned her an Oscar nomination and recently, Dolly has written the songs for the 9-5 Broadway musical by the same name. 1982’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” taken from the soundtrack of the film Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, reached No. 1 again that year. A Bee Gees-written duet with Kenny Rogers, “Islands In The Stream,” topped the country charts in 1983.

Parton returned to her acoustic roots when she recorded the 1987 landmark album “Trio” with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Four of its singles reached the Top 10, and “To Know Him Is To Love Him” reached No. 1. After signing to Columbia Records, she returned to No. 1 as a solo artist in 1989 with “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.” That same year, she starred in the hit movie Steel Magnolias, with Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts.

Parton’s hit song came back in full force once again when Whitney Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You” for The Bodyguard soundtrack, and both the single and the album were massively successful. Dolly re-recorded “I Will Always Love You” with Vince Gill, and they won a CMA award for “Best Vocal” in 1996. Taken from the album “Trio II,” a cover of “After The Gold Rush” won a Grammy for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” in 1999, and Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later that year. Also that year, Parton teamed with respected independent label Sugar Hill Records and recorded the acoustic album “The Grass,” which garnered a Grammy for “Best Bluegrass Album.” In 2006, she earned her second Oscar nomination for “Travelin’ Thru,” which she wrote specifically for the film Transamerica. She also returned to No. 1 on the country charts later that year by lending her distinctive harmonies to the Brad Paisley ballad, “When I Get Where I’m Going.”

Dolly Parton has donated more than 10 million books to pre-school children across the United States and provides scholarships to high school students in Sevier County, Tenn. She recently pledged to raise one million dollars for her hometown hospital and, in return, the county honored her with a life-size statue in front of the courthouse.