Dolly Parton was born and raised in Sevierville, Tennessee.
Parton is Christian, and deeply spiritual. What denomination remains a topic of speculation, but that's because she's probably just plain old Christian. The fact that God is a big part of her life, however, is not up for question. As Dolly says,
God is in everything I do and all my work glorifies Him.
Her songs certainly reflect that attitude. She's a big fan of gospel and spirituals, and many of her songs are deeply religious from "Letter to Heaven" to "Hello God." She credits this theme in her songwriting to her childhood:
My grandpa was a preacher, and I guess at an impressionable age, I believed that through God I could do everything. . . . and that's why so many of my songs have an inspirational feeling.
Parton's faith seems to be utterly personal–less about church every Sunday and more about her friendship with Jesus.
I try to just depend on that source that's bigger than us. . . . and kind of energize my batteries with God and praying every day. And just kind of feeling like Jesus is right here close to me and he's my friend, and I just talk to him and deal with it that way.
Less Politics, More Compassion
Parton is not one to discuss politics. Apparently when conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly asked her if she was conservative, she said no, that she was "more patriotic than political." Her patriotic album For God and Country brought that fact home. But that doesn't mean she won't talk about any political issues.
The legendary singer is very accepting of her gay fans, saying it's not her place to judge other people–that's a task reserved for God. She can also relate to gay people because she felt different and like an outcast growing up. And she also believes in gay people's right to marry:
Sure, why can't they get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do.
And despite her blatantly sexual image, Parton has a feminist side too. Her song"9 to 5″ about the plight of working women solidified her place in the movement, and she makes comments, even in jest, that show she's an advocate of equal rights for women:
I wanted to be the first woman to burn her bra, but it would have taken the fire department four days to put it out.
And even though she never endorsed Barack Obama, she wishes him the best. She said she thought it was wonderful that Americans elected a black president.
I just hate that Obama had to go in with this big burden on him. It's like, no matter what he does, people are going to slap him around. But we should all pray for him and. . . be supportive.
Dolly has a passion for literacy considering her father, who she says was very smart, never learned how to read. Her program, Imagination Library, sends one book a month to preschool children. It's grown since 1996 from a local project in her hometown to operating in three countries.