How Dolly Parton Invited God into Her Big Dreams

Photo from Dolly Parton’s Instagram

How Dolly Parton Invited God into Her Big Dreams

By Movieguide® Contributor

Dolly Parton has gone from the poorest of poor to the heights of fame, but one thing that hasn’t changed throughout her achievements is her reliance on God.

Born to a large sharecropping family in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, Parton had little given to her to set her up for worldwide success. However, throughout her childhood, she found faith in God, learned the importance of hard work and discovered her passion for music.

“We Partons sang in church and played our own instruments too. My uncle gave me a guitar when I was eight. I strummed it till my fingernails cracked,” Parton said. “I learned to play fiddle, like most everyone in my family did. More and more, music felt like that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It became my first big dream, and naturally I asked God if I was on the right track and if He would help, to make this dream ours together.”

After graduating high school, Parton moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. Through hard work and determination, she managed to launch herself to national and international fame. Her success fueled another dream.

She wanted to give back and provide opportunities for people like her father. Parton’s father was one of the smartest people she knew, yet he was heavily limited because he could not read. Most people from her area were similarly illiterate.

She founded the Imagination Library, which provides children in need access to books.

“My wish was for every child who yearned for a book – like me – and didn’t have one or the means to buy one to be able to get a copy of their own,” the singer explained. “We could give away books all around the world. There is nothing so empowering and liberating as a book given to a child who has none.”

Imagination Library has donated over 130 million books in the 25 years since it was founded. It has also gained support from other celebrities, such as Jeff Bezos, who donated $100 million to the cause.

“Back when I was growing up in the backwoods of Tennessee, a book was a rare commodity for a young’un. But once I got one and learned to read, I never stopped,” Parton said. “To this very day, I’m always in the middle of one book or another, keeping my imagination in hyperdrive.”

Her third big dream? Dollywood.

“I was out in Hollywood one day and I looked up at that famous sign in the hills and thought to myself, ‘If I could only change that letter H to a D, I wonder what would happen.’ Dollywood. That’s what would happen,” Parton recalled.

“There it was, an idea for the girl from the backwoods to go home and build something, a destination for all those folks who come to the Great Smoky Mountains,” she continued.

Despite pushback from her financial advisors, Parton went through with this idea and was able to make her family-focused theme park. Her favorite part of the park is the chapel she built on the property.

Dollywood has become one of the biggest attractions in Tennessee. Parton hopes it is a place where people can connect with God.

“To my mind, it is the heart of Dollywood,” Parton said. “People can come in to write down their prayer requests. They can have some quiet and make sure their prayers are as big as their dreams and most of all to make God a partner in them. I couldn’t have done anything good in my life without God by my side.”

Through it all, Parton has stayed true to those key things she learned growing up: stay true to your passions, work hard, and – most importantly – keep your life centered on Christ.

Movieguide® previously reported:

The 73-year-old country singer Dolly Parton is an iconic artist who continues to pursue her faith and career.  

Aside from her long and award-winning music career, Parton is also known for TV and movies like her Netflix show DOLLY PARTON’S HEARTSTRINGS or CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE, for which she won Movieguide®’s Grace Prize®.  The “These Old Bones” episode of DOLLY PARTON’S HEARTSTRINGS won Movieguide®’s Faith and Freedom® Award for Television. 

Parton is candid about her faith in God and said that she knew to follow God’s plan for her life from a young age. 

“My grandpa was a Pentecostal preacher. So healing and praying and being anointed and all that stuff was nothing new to us, cause we survived because of our faith in God,” Parton said.