Dolly Parton‘s grandfather was a preacher. And she grew up in a heavily religious family. It’s no secret that spirituality plays a huge role in the “9 to 5” singer’s life and music. Many of her songs, in fact, are gospel songs.
There was a time, early in Parton’s career, that she considered adding “preacher” to her resume.
Dolly Parton said it was ‘definitely possible’ that she’d become a preacher
When Parton was interviewed by Playboy Magazine in 1978, her interviewer brought up that her mother “has said that she always expected you to lead people to the Lord.” Would Parton ever consider becoming a preacher?
“Yes, I think that is definitely possible,” she responded, as recorded by the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. “My mother and many people have always said that they saw the love of God in me. I expect that someday, in some way, before I die I’ll have done some good for God, who I think has done all the good in me that’s ever been done.”
The “Jolene” singer went on to say that she, perhaps, had an unconventional view of God.
“I think that people for years have passed God right up, looked right past Him, thinkin’ that He was some great monster in the sky and that you had to live with these horrible guilt feelin’s and you had to crawl under a bed if you’d done somethin’ wrong,” she said. “I have a totally different concept of God. I’m God-fearin’, but I’m not afraid of God. The way I look at God is, I think He means somethin’ different to everybody. We are all God’s children, if we just clear a way for Him to work through us. You don’t have to be standin’ in a church house to reach people to change their lives to do good. I don’t want to get so involved in this that people think, Oh, another country-music fanatic, because I’m not a fanatic, never was. If I need to make a decision or somethin’, I just talk out loud to God. I joke with God. He don’t ever say nothin’ back.”
Dolly Parton has never been big on going to church
While Parton has a foundational relationship with God, she’s never been a devout church goer. When her 1978 interviewer asked her if she goes to church she responded:
“No, not anymore. Carl and I are probably afraid we’ll become total Christians and then we’ll . . . I don’t know. I always want to go home when they’re havin’ a revival, though. Someday, when I can have some time off, I want to go back to the house and stay home for a couple of months, spend the summer, work the fields and go to the orchards, can apples and peaches—do stuff like I used to. And if they’re havin’ a revival, I’ll go. I’ll get up and sing, too.”
In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, Parton went so far as to say that she’s “not that religious.”
“But I’m very, very spiritual,” she wrote. “I grew up in very religious surroundings. I grew up with a Bible background, and I’m glad I did. I know my Bible stories, like the ones I mention in [her song, ‘The Master’s Hand’].”
‘I pray a lot’
Since Parton was young, she’s had a close relationship with God. She prays every single day.
“I pray a lot,” she told Southern Living in 2014. “I pray that God will show me what to do and will guide me and lead me. And I try not to answer His prayers. I try to keep myself wide open to recognize what it is that I’m supposed to know and to see. I may not always like a route that something’s taken. I might prefer it to be something different. But I think, ‘Well, this is what I’ve got.’ So you gotta make the most with what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Parton never did become a preacher. But there’s no doubt that she has certainly “done some good.”