Why Dolly Parton Doesn’t Think She Has a Great Singing Voice

Dolly Parton is a music icon who is greatly admired for her hit songs and moving singing voice. Though many consider the country music legend to have beautiful vocals, she begs to differ. In a 1978 interview with Playboy magazine, Parton revealed that she doesn’t consider herself a great singer, sharing that she finds her voice to be a bit “irritating.”

Dolly Parton performing onstage in 1976
Dolly Parton | David Redfern/Redferns

Dolly Parton describes herself as an ‘original, creative person’

During a candid interview with Playboy magazine in 1978, Parton opened up about her life and successful music career.

At one point during the interview, the singer was asked to describe herself to people who have never seen or heard her. In true Dolly fashion, the multi-Grammy winner didn’t hesitate to gush over her fearlessness and hard-working nature.

Dolly Parton performing onstage in NYC in 1978
Dolly Parton | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

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“I just don’t have a fear of lie. I love life, so why should I fear somethin’ I love? And why should I reach out to the things I can’t touch? I’m strong-willed,” Parton said. “I can think like a workingman because I know what a workingman goes through… I’m loyal and devoted to the things that I believe in.”

The singer was then asked to assess her singing talent, which she wasn’t the most confident in.

“I like to be appreciated as a writer and, if not a great singer, at least a stylist and an original, creative person,” Parton admitted.

Dolly Parton doesn’t think that she’s a ‘great singer’

Though many would say that Parton is extremely gifted in all areas related to music, she wasn’t convinced that she had the best singing voice.

“My manager just hates me to say that, because he says it’s not true. I don’t have a great voice,” the “Jolene” singer said during the interview. “I have a different voice and I can do things with it that a lot of people can’t. But it’s so delicate in other ways, there’s no way I can do some of the things other singers can.”

Parton went on to explain why she doesn’t think she’s a good singer.

“I used to have a lot of vibrato in my voice. It could almost be real irritating to a lot of people’s ears. It was a natural thing for me, but some people say, ‘You sound like you been eating billy goat.’ Bah, bah,” she shared. “I guess I overdone it, so I tried to learn at takin’ some of the vibrato out. I would like to improve my voice to be able to hit better notes. My notes are not always true. But my heart is always true. And the emotions I put in is always true.”

Though she’s indifferent about her singing voice, that hasn’t stopped Parton from making music, which has always brought her great pleasure.

“I just love to sing,” Parton gushed. “It is joyful, it’s something I can scream, it’s a release for me.”

Dolly Parton says she ‘never’ listens to herself sing

Though she has a ton of fans that love the way she sings, Parton doesn’t particular admire her singing voice.

During the interview, the “I Will Always Love You” singer revealed that she “never” listens to herself, noting that she isn’t fond of her baby-high soprano chops.

Dolly Parton singing at The Mill Run Theater in 1977
Dolly Parton | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

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“Unless I’m in the studio tryin’ to decide what goes in the album. I’m not necessarily a fan of my own,” she said. “I’m not one of my favorite singers.”

Though she isn’t a Dolly Parton enthusiast, the singer shared that her husband, Carl Dean, was a fan of hers, despite not being one at first.

“He didn’t used to, but he’s become a real big fan of mine now,” Parton shared. “I played this new album, Heartbreaker, and he really liked it. It means more than anybody could ever know.”