The endlessly effervescent Dolly Parton bubbled into the former Sony Records building on Nashville’s Music Row on Thursday (Sept. 20) to announce the structure will be the new home of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Already, the building is being used as a classroom for Belmont University’s just-launched songwriting curriculum.
“How do you like my pink hair?” Parton asked the crowd of music industry executives and entertainment reporters wedged into a reception area to hear the announcement. Parton said she had pinked herself out (she was also wearing a pink jacket) for her forthcoming appearance on Dancing With the Stars. She stressed that she wouldn’t be dancing herself but simply using the opportunity to debut her current iTunes single, “Better Get to Livin’.”
Although the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was established in 1970, it has never had a physical space of its own. Collaborating on the new exhibit and songwriting area are the Mike Curb Family Foundation (which owns the building at 34 Music Square East), the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation.
Belmont University president Bob Fisher announced details of the songwriting curriculum and offered to create a professorship on the spot for Parton if she would like to teach in the program.
“OK,” said Parton skeptically. “I’ll keep you posted.”
Currently, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has 162 members. Six more are due to be inducted Oct. 14.
Teaching the first songwriting class of the fledgling curriculum are Thom Schuyler and Bob Regan, both of whom were present for the announcement. Schuyler has penned the hits “Love Will Turn You Around,” “A Long Line of Love,” “Point of Light” and the iconic “16th Avenue.” Regan’s composing credits include “Your Everything,” “Thinking About You,” “Soon” and “Every Time I Cry.”
Parton stole the spotlight as reporters pelted her with questions about her upcoming album — it’s called Backwoods Barbie — and the impending Broadway version of her 1980 hit movie, 9 to 5. She said she wrote all the songs for the play, which is set to debut in the fall of 2009.
She added that she plans to tour Canada, Europe and possibly Australia next year. “I’m a gypsy at heart,” she asserted. “I love to be out with the people.”
Retirement, said the 61-year-old bombshell, is not in her plans. “I hope to fall dead on stage,” she chirped, “right in the middle of a song — and hopefully one I wrote.”
Parton’s quips came a mile a minute. After the press conference was over and she and the other dignitaries were posing for pictures, she noticed a photographer who seemed to be having equipment trouble.
“You’re not flashing,” she shouted. “Can I help you charge your batteries?”