Skip to main content

Dolly Parton has been part of the entertainment industry for more than six decades. Parton has had a love for music ever since she was a young child. Here’s what she said about the moment she realized she wanted to be a country singer.

Dolly Parton’s early years

Dolly Parton sits in front of a bouquet of roses
Dolly Parton | Getty Images/Getty Images for ACM

Parton grew up around music. She says her family members were very musical people. Her Uncle, Bill Owens, nurtured her interest in music. “My mother’s people were musical, mostly gospel, but my mother and all of her people play some musical instruments, and some of my daddy’s people,” Parton tells USA Today.

“I had an uncle, Bill Owens, that used to take me around to different places to sing,” Parton continues. “He had taught me all the chords on the guitar because he saw early on that I was serious about my singing.”

Dolly Parton’s career

Parton had her first hit song when she was 13 years old after releasing “Puppy Love.” She could barely contain herself when she first heard her song on the radio. She says she was so excited that she ended up sliding to the floor. That year, she also appeared on The Grand Ole Opry.

“I got an encore, but I only had the one song, so I sang it again!” she tells W magazine. “When I heard “Puppy Love” on the radio for the first time, I about killed myself. I was sitting on the counter at my aunt’s house, and suddenly I heard my voice. I slid on the floor, ’cause she was mopping. I was trying to get to the radio. Even to this day, I’ve never had anything that was more exciting than the first time I heard myself on the radio.”

The ”Love Is Like a Butterfly” singer tells W magazine she got her start as a songwriter. She was inspired to write songs after visiting graveyards. “I’d read somebody’s name on their stone or see the grave of a little kid and wonder what their story was,” she says.

The moment Dolly Parton knew she wanted to be a country singer


Trisha Yearwood’s Yummy Chicken Pot Pie Burger ‘Tastes Like Childhood’

Dolly Parton (along with her uncle, Bill Owens) was signed to Monument Records in 1965. The first single she recorded was “I Wasted My Tears.” Other singles she recorded with the record label were “What Do You Think About Lovin’,” “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby,” and “Old Enough to Know Better.”

Parton says she knew she wanted to become a country singer because she would get a lot of positive attention when she sang her songs. When she was a young girl, her mother marveled at how she was able to write songs at such a young age. During an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, she says she loved the attention her mother gave her.

Parton’s mother gathered people around and told them to listen to her daughter sing. “I think that kind of encouraged [my interest in music], but also I loved the sound of that music,” says Parton. “I loved the sound of the instruments. I loved being able to create something.”

Parton decided to become a country singer after her uncle took her to sing in front of an audience when she was 10 years old. The applause and positive response sealed the deal.

“It was when they kept clapping and clapping after I had finished my song that I thought that… I felt something,” says Parton. “I was scared, I was nervous, I’m a country little kid, but when I got that applause and got that feeling, is when I thought, ‘This is what I think I’m gonna do.’”

Follow Sheiresa Ngo on Twitter.