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Dolly Parton is one of the most well-known and beloved country singers of all time. These days she’s got plenty of money – but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, Dolly Parton grew up poor, which is a huge part of what makes her so unique as a person. Her childhood experiences shaped her outlook and world, turning her into a true artist.

Dolly Parton grew up dirt poor

Dolly parton cabin
| Dollywood via Instagram

Poverty doesn’t have a single definition. In Dolly Parton’s case, growing up poor meant sharing a single room cabin in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains with her mom, dad, and 11 siblings. Her parents worked as sharecroppers and the only meat they ate was the game they caught themselves: bear, turtle, rabbit, squirrel, and groundhog.

But just because she grew up without money it doesn’t mean Dolly Parton had a bad childhood. She once said that her mother was a “great cook” who taught her children the value of being self-sufficient. She explains that the only things they needed to buy from the store were coffee and sugar. Everything else was either grown or hunted.

She started working at a young age

Dolly Parton became a working singer at the tender age of 10 when she began performing on the Cas Walker radio show in Knoxville, Tennessee. The audience loved her, and she knew she wanted to be a star.

She did wait until after her high school graduation to launch her real career – barely. On the day after her high school graduation in 1964, Dolly Parton bid her hometown goodbye and headed to Nashville to work on her singing and songwriting. The rest is history.

Parton never forgot where she came from

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Dolly Parton knew how much her parents had sacrificed to raise her and her many siblings. That’s why when she started making real money singing in Nashville, she didn’t think twice about what to do with it.

She explains, “With the first money I ever made I bought my Mommy and Daddy a car and helped them fix their house up.” For Christmas, she splurged and bought her father a big blue truck and her mom a shiny new Cadillac.

What is Dolly Parton’s current net worth?

Over the course of her long and successful career, Dolly Parton has released 41 top ten country albums and had 25 songs hit number one on the Billboard music charts. She’s also made money from acting, writing, and business in addition to producing, writing, and performing songs.

Currently, Dolly Parton is worth $500 million.

She’s grateful she grew up poor

Dolly Parton isn’t bitter that she grew up without money – in fact, she has quite the opposite reaction. She said the following about her past: “I think being poor has been good for me. I saw how my mom and dad struggled, and how they could stretch a dollar farther than you could begin to imagine.

“Even now, if I am thinking about spending a lot of money on clothing or furniture, I think, ‘I can’t spend so much money on one thing; my poor old daddy could have raised his family five years on that!’”