The country music legend talks about reopening Dollywood after the Tennessee wildfires and her new children's album.
- Posted on Nov 29, 2017
No one does Christmas quite like Dolly Parton.
The country music icon just launched her annual holiday celebration, Smoky Mountain Christmas, at her amusement park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. From November 4 to January 3, the festive event features light displays, southern cooking and live musical performances of Christmas classics like It’s A Wonderful Life and Parton’s own Christmas in the Smokies.
“Christmas is special to me as I think it is for everybody,” Parton tells Guideposts.org. “We always think about it being the birth of Jesus, and of course, that means a great deal to me. I grew up with that faith and it's the faith that keeps me going, still, but Christmas is just a special time. I love the beauty of it, the fun of it, the decorations, and the lights; that's why I think that the Dollywood Christmas has become so popular.”
The devastating fires that raged through the area late last year had caused some to worry that the amusement park might be shut down this holiday season, but Parton says the community has rallied together after the tragedy.
“We were afraid that people were gonna stay away,” Parton says. “But now I think that people are coming back and seeing that it's beautiful. We're all back in business. The Smokys are roaring again.”
Along with getting people into the Christmas spirit, Parton’s been busy promoting her latest album, I Believe in You, a collection of songs specifically for children—a first for the artist.
“I've been writing other children's songs through the years and it just seemed like a good year for children for me. And so, we just decided we'd just do a mainstream children's album,” Parton says.
Parton had penned the songs while getting her nonprofit, Imagination Library, off the ground. The library, which opened in 1995, began as a way to benefit the children of her home county. Today, the library sends more than one million books per month to children around the world.
“It was based on something personal to me because I've often talked about my dad not having a chance to get an education,” Parton says of the library. “He actually inspired the idea and he got to help me a little bit while we were in development. He felt real proud. I think he got a lot of joy and fulfillment out of that, and that made it even more special to me.”
Proceeds from her new children’s album go to buying more books for the library and for the kids who need them.
“It's one of the most special things I've ever been involved in in my entire life and something I'll always take great pride in, because you can't go wrong by helping the kids,” Parton says of the library and her new album. “Just to help children in their most impressionable years; if they can learn to read, even if they live in poor places and don't have the money to get an education, if you can read, you can find a book on anything, it opens up new worlds.”
For Parton, keeping busy by making sure her park stays open to help families celebrate the holidays and crafting new albums to guarantee kids in need can pursue an education through reading, brings joy and a sense of fulfillment to the singer’s life.
“I always say I've dreamed myself into a corner, and now I've gotta be responsible,” Parton explains. “So I've gotta keep working.”
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader