Dolly Parton remains one of music’s most inspirational figures. A bona fide rags-to-riches story, Parton grew up dirt poor to become magnificently wealthy, with a fortune in excess of $500 million. With homespun humor, she created an iconic persona of big hair and even bigger bosom. But Parton has also done her part for charity and female equality—writing the title track for the movie 9 to 5, in which she co-starred with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and its musical counterpart that opens in Toronto June 29.
Musically, Parton has recorded pop, gospel, bluegrass and mainstream country. Her 41st album, Better Day, is a feel-good country classic. “I wanted to do an album that was very uplifting and positive, as well as inspirational,” explains Parton. “Times are hard all over. I think people need to feel better and I thought Better Day was a perfect title because it says ‘hope.’”
The new album kicks off with “In the Meantime,” a jaunty rejection of doomsayers: “Nobody knows when the end is coming, but some people tell you they do,” Parton sings. “It might be today, it might be tomorrow, or in a million years or two.” Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss join her on the gorgeous “Somebody’s Missing You.” But the quintessential Dolly song is the honky-tonkin’ “Country is as Country Does,” in which she sings: “I’m quite content with who I am, and if you ain’t, well, kiss my ham.” Better Day is simply Dolly at her no-nonsense best.