Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

“I may not be pure, but I’m as simple as they come.” Dolly’s new album takes her back to her roots

From issue 32, Autumn 2016

It was classic Dolly. As she strode to the centre of the stage for the first date of her new Pure & Simple tour the 70-year old superstar joked with the audience “I need the money, because it costs a lot to look this cheap.”

Dolly has always known the value of money. The daughter of a tobacco farmer, she grew up in a very poor household in the Appalachian mountains, one of 12 children surviving on her father’s small paypacket.


“We always made jokes and said we didn’t even know we were poor till some smart aleck up and told us,” Dolly told Quids in!. “We didn’t have any money, but we were rich in things that money don’t buy. You know, like love and kindness and understanding.” And Dolly credits that tough start to life with making her the person she is today: ”I think my childhood made me everything I am. No matter how poor and dirty we might have been I’ve always loved being where I’m from.” Dolly was only 12 when she started performing, and before long she was on her meteoric rise to superstardom. Her mother wasn’t surprised. “Momma saw it in me. She thought, ‘Well, if anybody is gonna do what they say, it’s gonna be her.’ Because I was always very determined.”


Dolly has made the story of her young life into a film, The Coat of Many Colours – also the title of one of her best-known songs. The song is about wearing a dress her mother made her out of scraps of clothes and how Dolly was teased at school. “Momma was handy with a needle and thread. Useful with a bunch of scraps or whatever. She remade and sewed everything. We were always wearing hand-me-down dresses.” And now Dolly is off again, with a new album called Pure & Simple that goes back to her songwriting roots, and a Greatest Hits collection to go with it. “I have to be careful how I say that last one,” quips Dolly. Classic Dolly again. “I may not be pure, but I’m as simple as they come.” Dolly’s new album takes her back to her roots


Dolly’s dad couldn’t read, and she has been inspired by him to create her imagination library which sends a number of children a free book every month for them to read. To find out if Dolly’s library operates in your area and whether or not you qualify please visit