Dolly Parton Surprises Crowd at Newport Folk Festival

Rhode Island Gets a Rare Visit from Country Legend and Then Some

Guess who showed up at the Newport Folk Festival on Saturday evening (July 27). Hall of famer — Grammy, Songwriters, Country Music and more — Dolly Parton.

The iconic country star made her surprise appearance during The Collaboration’s show on the Fort stage in the Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island. It looks like The Collaboration is another car on the supergroup train, and is likely the curated work of Brandi Carlile (who has been doing some supergrouping of her own with her new all-girl band The Highwomen. Their performance at the festival on Friday night was their first live show as a group. Carlile called it monumental.)

Leading up to Saturday night’s show, there was already some mystery surrounding who, exactly, The Collaboration was. All the festival’s schedule said was that on Saturday evening, there would be a show from four artists represented by the Venus symbol of a circle with a small cross below it, like this ♀♀♀♀.

So enter Carlile. Then rockstar Sheryl Crow. Then Maren Morris. Then Natalie Hemby. Then Amanda Shires. Then newcomer Maggie Rogers. Then newcomer Candi Carpenter. Then queen of country soul Yola. Then the always outspoken Judy Collins. And then, Parton.

With a set list from across all genres and all eras, the larger-than-life group kept the crowd engaged and packed in tight against the stage for the last show of the night. See this gem of a backstage moment to get a feel for the vibe:

The Newport Folk Festival runs through Sunday, with artists on all four stages all day and night.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro