When Dolly graduated from Sevier County High School in 1964, she didn’t waste a single day and drove off to Nashville, Tennessee the following night. The city is known as the center of country music and many popular country artists achieved their claim to fame there. Upon arrival, she was signed with Combine Publishing and began writing various singles that were later recorded by successful music artists.
Despite being very successful as an up-and-coming songwriter, Parton knew that she was there for a different reason. At age 19, she was finally picked up by a major record label that wanted her in the spotlight. That’s when she really started gaining popular acclaim.
Dolly’s Childhood Years
Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19, 1946, to Avie Lee Caroline, and Robert Lee Parton. She lived with her family in a tiny one-room cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee. Robert was a small-time business owner who sold tobacco and worked in construction. Her mother, Avie, stayed at home and raised the kids. Dolly was the fourth child in line out of a whole dozen.
On Sundays, the family would often go to church where Dolly’s grandfather was the pastor. The Parton family lived in abject poverty. Still, they were quite happy and loved each other. Little Dolly began performing at church by the age of six, where she showed great potential. By the time she was eight years old she even had her own guitar.
From a very young age, Dolly Parton had already proven herself as a talented musician. She began performing as a child, mostly by singing on local radio and TV programs in East Tennessee. By the age of ten, the young singer had already appeared on "The Cas Walker Show", and found herself recording her first single just a few years later.
Parton also had a lucky encounter with legendary singer Johnny Cash while singing at the Grand Ole Opry hotel. The veteran singer told her to go after her dreams and trust her gut when it came to music. Although Dolly was appearing regularly as a performer, her family was still facing the same economic issues, as she was still years away from banking good money for her musical talents.
First Hit Single
When Monument Records approached Dolly in 1965, she was still just 19 years old, but as ready as anyone can be for performing. The studio had initially thought of her as a mainstream bubblegum pop singer, but the singer was adamant that she wanted a career in country music. Monument initially resisted the idea, mostly because they believed her unique voice was not suited for the genre.
The young aspiring singer kept releasing singles until one of them made the list. It was the song "Put It Off Until Tomorrow", which she recorded with Bill Phillips. With all that effort, however, she remained uncredited for that song. The song got to number six on the country chart and the studio gave her the green light to record a country album. She soon released her first album titled "Hello, I'm Dolly".
Teaming Up With Wagoner
Thanks to her rising popularity and promising future, Dolly was approached in 1967 by Porter Wagoner with an opportunity. The beloved country star and entertainer invited Dolly, who'd been in Nashville for just three years at this point, to work with him on various projects. The young singer got to participate in Wagoner's beloved TV program "The Porter Wagoner Show" and even took part in his roadshows.
Porter Wagoner was originally accompanied by Norma Jean, who was widely beloved among his fans. When Parton replaced her audiences were very public about their disapproval but over time Parton managed to gain the love of his audiences and was even signed on to Wagoner's label, RCA Victor. The two immediately hit it big and released hit after hit for a full six years enjoying much success, fame, and fortune in the process.