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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The 'book lady' .. and she sings, too

“Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn't get some of that stuff out.” – Dolly Parton

Country music icon and actress Dolly Rebecca Parton was born 70 years ago today in tiny Locust Ridge, Tenn., one of 12 children.  Her first exposure to music came from her mother who sang, and much of the early music she learned were church songs.  She started singing professionally at age 10 and by the time she finished high school she was already writing.  Songs about the life that swirled around her “just poured out.” 

For the hundreds and hundreds of songs she has written, she’s been honored with election to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  She also is a Kennedy Center Honoree for her lifetime achievements, which include many movies, television shows, founding the Dollywood Theme Park, and of course for her music. “My songs are the door to every dream I've ever had and every success I've ever achieved.” 
 That having been said, she has also had a wonderful writing career and has authored many best-selling books, including the poignant children’s book, Coat of Many Colors – also a terrific song.  Since the mid-1980s, Dolly has supported many charitable efforts, particularly in the area of literacy, primarily through “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” part of the Dollywood Foundation.

The program distributes more than 10 million free books to children annually, mailing a book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. Currently over 1,600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to 850,000 children across the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia.   

“Everywhere I go, kids call me 'the book lady.' The older I get, the more appreciative I seem to be of the 'book lady' title. It makes me feel more like a legitimate person, not just a singer or an entertainer. But it makes me feel like I've done something good with my life and with my success.”   

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