Dolly Parton Returns to Stage and Walks Fans Through Her Songwriting History

Dolly Parton returned to the stage Sunday night for the first time since the pandemic began. Her acoustic set walked the audience through her development from Smoky Mountain child to bonafide movie star.

Dolly Parton hadn’t played a concert since the pandemic began, but that changed Sunday when she took fans on a guided walk through her songwriting history.

Parton headlined the Kiss Breast Cancer Goodbye benefit concert at CMA Theater in Nashville. The event was organized in part by Donna Wells, the wife of Parton’s longtime musical director Kent Wells, who was the only player to join Parton on stage. Other performers included Collin Raye, Linda Davis, Dennis Quaid, LOCASH and Todd & Julie Chrisley.

The evening belonged to Parton. Dressed in her fitted, bedazzled hot pink jumpsuit with matching sheer skirt, she held the enraptured audience in the palm of her well-manicured hand for more than an hour.

“I’ve not done a show in such a long time that I woke up this morning and thought I had a sore throat,” she said as she got situated on her stool in the spotlight. “You know how you get when you get scared.”

Parton told fans she was going to tell them the stories and sing them songs and that if she talked them to death, to ask her to “shut up.”

“We’re not going to be dancing any jigs tonight,” she said. “We’re just going to do our thing.”

Parton opened her set with “Pink,” a vocal collaboration with Jordin Sparks, Rita Wilson, Monica and Sara Evans, that Parton recorded last year about ending breast cancer.

Written by Victoria Shaw, Erin Kinsey and Jodi Marr, lyrics include: Someday pink will just be a color/ Not a ribbon to remember/A best friend or a mother.

“You don’t lose your faith because you lose your hair,” she said as she ended the song.

The audience gave Parton a standing ovation.

“That’s OK,” she replied. “I’m going to be here a long time.”

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