By AUDREY FISCHER
The Library of Congress honored country singer and musician Dolly Parton with its Living Legend medal at a special evening presentation on April 14.
The Library's Living Legend award is given to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to America's cultural, scientific and social heritage. Other musicians who have received the Living Legend award include Harry Belafonte, Johnny Cash, Dave Brubeck, Odetta and Yo Yo Ma.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington presented the award to Parton at a concert in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. In his presentation Billington said: "Dolly Parton has made an indelible mark on pop culture. Her contributions to crossover music, her ability to give voice to women's issues and the retention of her early Appalachian roots all stand as tribute to the artistry, heart and soul that Dolly brings to all she does."
The performance was taped for later broadcast on the Great American Country (GAC) cable television station, which is available in more than 25 million homes. The program is hosted by Bill Cody, host of GAC Classic.
Parton and her music are also featured in a special presentation on the Library's I Hear America Singing Web site at www.loc.gov/ihas.
Born on Jan. 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tenn., Parton has traveled far beyond her roots. Launching a musical career when she was 10 years old, Parton has been performing publicly for nearly 50 years and has become one of the nation's most celebrated and successful music stars. Her earliest recorded song, "Puppy Love," was made when she was 12, and she gave her first performance at the Nashville Grand Ole Opry in 1959, when she was introduced by Johnny Cash.
In 1971 Parton scored her first No. 1 hit with "Joshua," after which she recorded a series of successful singles, including "Jolene," "Here You Come Again" and "9 to 5." More than two dozen of her albums reached gold, platinum or double platinum status. During her career, Parton has won seven Grammy Awards and nine Country Music Association Awards; she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Billboard magazine ranks her as the No. 1 female country artist of all time.
Four years ago Parton embarked on a new musical journey and "went home" to the mountain music of her childhood. Her homage to bluegrass music, "The Grass Is Blue," won a Grammy Award in 2000. Other recent albums include "Little Sparrow" (2001), "Halos & Horns" (2002) and the patriotic album "For God and Country" (2003).
In addition to her long musical career, Parton has appeared in a number of films and is a successful businesswoman who operates theme parks, restaurants and a film production studio. In 1996 she launched "The Imagination Library," a nonprofit program designed to aid preschool children and promote the importance of childhood literacy in her native Sevier County, Tenn.
I Hear America Singing is a new Library of Congress Web site that invites visitors to experience the diversity of American performing arts through the Library's unsurpassed collections of scores, sheet music, audio recordings, films, photographs, maps and other materials. Special presentations on selected topics—from patriotic melodies to Gerry Mulligan—highlight some of the unexpected and unusual materials in the Library's collections. This site is the beginning of what will be a continually growing resource that draws from the Library's vast collections and concert archives.
Audrey Fischer is a public affairs specialist in the Library's Public Affairs Office. Exhibition curators Adrienne Cannon and Daun van Ee, Manuscript Division, contributed to this story.