Last year, during an interview with Stephen Colbert, former President Barack Obama expressed his shock that music legend Dolly Parton had not been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom while Obama was in office.
“That was a screwup,” Obama said. “I think I assumed she had already got one.”
During an interview on Tuesday (Feb. 2) on Today With Hoda and Jenna, Parton said that she had twice been offered the honor during former President Donald Trump’s administration—and both times, she had to decline the offer.
“Well, I actually have to be honest in all fairness,” Parton told co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. “I got offered the freedom award from the Trump administration and I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill. Then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID.”
When Hager asked whether Parton would accept the honor if the administration of current President Joe Biden offered it, Parton said she was uncertain. “Now I feel like if I take it I’ll be doing politics. So, I’m not sure.”
Parton said the honor would be “a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it,” though she added, “I don’t work for those awards. It’d be nice, but I’m not sure that I even deserve it.”
The Medal of Freedom is awarded to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
This nine-time Grammy winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member, known for hits including the iconic “I Will Always Love You” and the working woman anthem “9 To 5,” just keeps adding to her projects. Last year, she released the holiday album A Holly Dolly Christmas, collaborated with author and journalist Robert K. Oermann on the book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, and released the holiday movie Christmas on the Square for Netflix. She’s nominated for another Grammy at the upcoming ceremony for “There Was Jesus,” a collaboration with Zach Williams.
To top it off, Parton’s $1 million donation to COVID-19 research helped to fund the Moderna vaccine.