Love her or loathe her (though how a person could do the latter, I don’t know), it’s tough to deny that Dolly Parton is one of a kind — the sort of celebrity whose unique public persona is as well known in a country kitchen as it is in an industry board room.
Since I fall squarely into the love her camp (pun adoringly intended), I’ve got a lot to look forward to. Last week, Parton announced that in February of 2008, she plans to release a new studio album, followed by a tour with stops in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Add this to earlier summer news that the long-planned 9 to 5 musical is getting closer to opening curtains, and it’s a darn good time to be a Parton fan. Just look at how happy she and her 1980 9 to 5 costars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda were at last year’s Sexist, Egotistical, Lying Hypocritical Bigot Edition release party.
I’ll be grinning like that if the musical ends up involving Allison Janney and Bebe Neuwirth, who participated in the June reading. Heck, I’d smile for either one of them, let alone the pair (sadly, Tomlin doesn’t appear connected to the project).
If you think Parton is just trying to revive the good ol’ days of hilarious revenge fantasies, think again; things are pretty good for her right now. Her albums, singles and duets continue to chart internationally; she received Kennedy Center honors last December; and before that she proved her first Oscar nomination (for 9 to 5‘s title track) to be no fluke by penning and performing another Oscar-nominated tune, this one for Transamerica. “Travelin’ Thru” is truly touching, and the video gets me every time.
Interestingly, Parton has chosen to launch an independent label, Dolly Records, to distribute the forthcoming CD; no Starbucks for her! Parton will be the only artist on the label, which she and manager Danny Nozell established after the major industry offers failed to impress them. The first single, “Better Get to Livin’,” is due on Sept. 24.
One of the things I dig the most about Parton is that along with her strong convictions (including in favor of LGBT rights) and philanthropic work (she gives away books, to kids!), she’s serious about having fun. Here she is performing “9 to 5” with Melissa Etheridge, during their notable 2003 appearance on CMT’s Crossroads (not only was their music and chemistry excellent, but their collaboration was also the first on the show to feature two women).
Now it’s time to get to livin’.