Legendary musician and philanthropist, Dolly Parton, has released a beautiful children’s album. We had the chance to talk with the superstar about her inspiration!
I’ll admit it. I am a HUGE FanGirl when it comes to Dolly Parton. I remember be-bopping to “Working 9 to 5,” when I didn’t even have a clue of what it meant! Dolly’s voice spans all ages, and she’s one of the most generous and philanthropic musicians around.
She’s released a new album, I Believe In You, and it’s her first ever album for kids. Yep, specifically for kids. We got the opportunity to chat with Dolly about some of her inspiration for this beautiful album, and were thrilled to hear the heartfelt story behind her motivation and where proceeds will go — her “Imagination Library” that gives free books to children.
Q: Fifty years, and now, a children’s album! We know that you are paying tribute to your dad, who never learned to read, and giving your proceeds to your “Imagination Library” to help get more books to children. This album seems like it’s sharing time-honored lessons; what’s the inspiration?
Dolly: A lot of the album is about telling children that even though the world can be a crazy place, we can turn it around and make things work in our best interests; we can turn negatives to positives and I try to do that with these songs as teaching lessons.
A lot of the songs were loosely based on book themes that we have in the Imagination Library, and the “I Believe In You” song is based on the first book we gave out through the Imagination Library — The Little Engine That Could. It’s one of my favorite books, and is such a confidence builder. I think there is a little engine in all of us that will let us do anything if we just don’t give up!
Q: I’d love to know the story behind Chemo Hero — it’s so personal, yet relatable.
Dolly: Well, I’m glad you asked that because that’s one of my most personal songs on the whole album and yes it was inspired by my little niece, Hannah Dennison who’s 29 years old now. When she was four years old, she got leukemia and things were touch and go with her until she was nine years old. She came through, and well, but when she was sick, I wrote a lot of songs for her because I wanted her to have positive encouragement.
I also wrote Brave Little Soldier for her when she was ill, and I wanted to share it on the album to let kids know that whether it’s divorce or illness or other things kids go through, they can get through it because they are brave little soldiers and chemo heroes.
Q: What was the inspiration of I am a Rainbow?
Dolly: Well, “I Am A Rainbow” is such a singable little melody and one day I was thinking, “I’m gonna write a book and a song about comparing the moods of children to the colors of a rainbow.” It’s something that they can relate to because we always hear about, colors and emotions connections, and I thought it would be great to compare the moods of children to colors of a rainbow and make it fun to sing.
I wanted to make all the songs singable, so the words would make an impression and little ones would enjoy it. I think it’s fun to sing!
Q: With Brave Little Soldier, did you have any specific inspiration?
Dolly: When we were growing up, mama used to sing this song “I’m A Soldier in the Army of the Lord,” and we would all march around like we were little soldiers. When you’re fighting against something or fighting for something, that’s what’s in this “Brave Little Soldier.” I wrote it for my niece… It also fits well for any children feeling like they’ve got to brave up and be strong and be like a little soldier and rise to the occasion.
To say we can win this thing — cause we’re gonna fight this disease or we’re gonna fight these problems, we’re gonna fight all the stuff that we’re going through right now, we’re gonna win cause we’re brave little soldiers.
Q: What are you most proud of with this album?
Dolly: Well, I’m proud of the fact that I finally got to do a children’s album, I’ve been at this for 50 years. I recorded my first album 50 years ago, and it was called, “Hello, I’m Dolly” and its like “Hello, I’m still Dolly” and I’m still doing all kinds of fun things. I’ve always wanted to do a children’s album but in this business, sometimes specialty albums get pushed to the side as a novelty because they may not make as much money as a mainstream album.
But this year, when I found out that we were just about to give away our hundred millionth book to children from The Imagination Library, I thought that if this children’s album did alright, I can do another to reach more children. I’d love to do a lullaby album called Dolly-bies at some point!
Dolly’s Imagination Library was started because her father wasn’t able to read or write, and she wanted to honor him with a program that gives children books, for free, from birth until they are in kindergarten. If you have littles under five, you most definitely should check it out.
And of course, you should check out the “I Believe In You!” album — catchy songs from the heart that will fill your child will positive encouragement and love. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon Music and now available in stores everywhere.
I promise — if you loved her before, you’ll love her even more now!