Dolly Parton Credits 1 Person for Her Entire Music Career

Music icon Dolly Parton has been one of country’s most famous singers for decades. The “Jolene” singer has won countless awards and has been nominated for at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.

Parton’s career wouldn’t have happened, though, if it weren’t for one person who left a major impact on her life.

Dolly Parton appears on Jimmy Fallon in 2016
Dolly Parton appears on Jimmy Fallon in 2016 | Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Dolly Parton was born extremely poor in rural Tennessee

Parton was born in rural Tennessee back in 1946. She was one of 12 children, and the family was raised in a tiny, one-room home. Parton’s father worked as a sharecropper while her mother tended to the couple’s large family. But growing up in a one-room home certainly wasn’t easy.

Parton once revealed that she shared a bed with three other siblings. And when they were younger, the siblings would wet themselves almost every night — and Parton had to clean it up.

“We bathed once a week once a week whether we needed it or not,” Parton once revealed in an interview, according to Wide Open Country. “The kids peed on me every night … As soon as I go to bed, the kids would wet on me, and I’d have to get up in the morning and do the same thing [wash up].” Parton also revealed that, in the winter, she didn’t mind it, since their home was so cold.

Dolly Parton poses for a photo in 1955
Dolly Parton poses for a photo in 1955 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Dolly Parton’s uncle is the biggest reason she launched a music career

By the time Parton was 13, her singing career had begun. She’d been working with a small record company in Louisiana, but things didn’t pick up for her until after high school, when she moved to Nashville. It was then that her uncle, Bill Owens, started writing songs with her.

Parton’s Uncle Bill helped move her forward in the entertainment industry. According to CBS, Parton’s uncle took her to audition for Cas Walker, which landed her earned her a spot in the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour TV and radio shows.

Parton’s uncle also worked hard to help her make an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry while in Nashville, which set the stage for the rest of her success. And perhaps most importantly, her uncle was a driving force in her learning to play the guitar. Her singing voice combined with her guitar skill only helped her stand out in the country music sphere.

Parton paid a loving tribute to her uncle when he died 

In April 2021, Parton’s Uncle Bill died. And she didn’t let the moment go unnoticed. The country singer wrote a heartfelt goodbye to the man who pushed her to succeed and helped her become the country icon that is today.

“I’ll start this eulogy by saying I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there,” Parton wrote in a post on her website. “Uncle Bill was so many things. He loved the music, loved to play, loved his guitar and loved to write and sing.” Parton ended her touching letter by writing the one thing for which she is “forever grateful” to her uncle: “The greatest thing he ever did for me was to help me see my dreams come true and for that I will be forever grateful.”