Dolly Parton Recalls Colorful Moments at Ryman Auditorium

Girls Were Fighting for the Dressing Room Mirror

Dolly Parton’s two sold-out shows this past weekend at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium were something of a homecoming for her.

“Times like this and when I get the chance to do the Grand Ole Opry, that’s always a special treat,” the Country Music Hall of Fame member told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. “We are just happy that we’re getting to do this and especially here at the Ryman. I love this building I became a member (of the Opry) on Jan. 4, 1969, so this is kinda like coming home to me.”

Tickets sold out quickly to both of her concerts which raised money for the Dustin Wells Foundation/W.O. Smith School of Music and the Opry Trust Fund.

“I was thrilled,” she said of the ticket demand. “I was honored. It’s not a real big building. Like I said, a lot of these things are for a good cause, so maybe they were buying tickets just to help out as much as they were to see me. I like to think that they were there to see me, but it makes you feel good.”

Her Ryman shows featured a scaled-down staging and just a few of her band members, but that didn’t stop her from playing her biggest hits.

“We just kinda put together a little show,” she said prior to the first concert. “It’s just a little simple show. But we still do our hit songs and everything like that. All those old songs are gonna hit me in a different place because they’re from a different time. ’Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ and the songs that were back then before I went out into the big world.”

It’s been 13 years since Parton performed a full concert in Nashville.

“When I’m usually in Nashville, I just want to stay home,” she admitted. “But when I want to perform, the Grand Ole Opry — the Ryman Auditorium — is like home to me.”

Backstage, Parton reflected on some of her memories of performing on the Ryman stage.

“I was a little girl the first time I got to perform,” she said. “It was kinda like being in another world. It had always been my dream. I was a little scared, and I was little excited.”

The current atmosphere at the Ryman is a lot different from the ‘60s and early ‘70s.

“We used to not have air conditioning, and now I’m standing here in this dressing room,” she said. “It’s nice and cool and beautiful. But back in the old days, when we used to work, it was so hot. There were so many people backstage. Not only the artists, but they would bring their families. It was just so crowded and so hot, you could just nearly die.

“There was a certain kind of love and a certain kind of energy that went with that — like a family reunion. I remember, more than anything, the girls fighting. There was a little dressing room on the other side of the house — not nearly as big as this — and all the boys had to change in one room, one small dressing room.

“All the girls were in the other, and you know how a bunch of women are — wanting to look better than each other, trying to find a spot in the mirror. There were a lot of almost fistfights going on in here. ‘I need to get in here! You’ve been standing there for 10 minutes! You’ve got to go!’

“It was great. It was like sisters.”

For more on Dolly Parton, tune in to CMT Hot 20 Countdown this Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 8-9) at 9 a.m. ET/PT.