Dolly Parton at the Country Music Awards. (Getty)
Dolly Parton came out swinging for the Black Lives Matter movement in a frank new interview with Billboard.
America’s ongoing reckoning with race has had a particular impact in the notoriously white country music industry, forcing some artists to confront their privilege.
Notably, both Lady A and The Chicks have renamed themselves to remove connotations with slavery, and now Dolly Parton has revealed she had a similar experience back in 2018.
Parton told Billboard that two years ago she decided to rename an attraction at her Dollywood theme park to remove the word ‘Dixie’ – which was traditionally used to describe the Confederate-era America south of the Mason-Dixon Line, where slavery was legal.
“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” the country icon turned multimedia mogul explained.
“When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede’.
“As soon as you realise that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumba*s. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.
The switch was made relatively quietly, two years before similar action by those country artists as well as the likes of Disneyland – which is renaming its Splash Mountain attraction for similar reasons – would make headlines worldwide.
Parton offered up the story not to boost her own credentials, but rather because she is an unequivocal supporter of equal rights.
Of the recent anti-racism protests, she added: “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen.
“And of course Black Lives Matter. Do we think our little white a*ses are the only ones that matter? No!”
Dolly Parton donated $1 million to COVID-19 research.
Parton also discussed the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her business.
Dollywood – which employs 4,000 people in her hometown Servier County – was forced to close temporarily, partly re-opening in June with limited capacities and social distancing.
She admitted to Billboard: “We certainly are not going to have a great year this year,” adding that “all of the things that I’m involved in are on hold, even my production companies and the movies — everything [took] a big hit”.
Despite shouldering some of this economic burden (Parton continued to pay her band and personal staffers during the pandemic, while most of Dollywood’s staff were furloughed), the artist reportedly donated one million dollars to vaccine efforts.
According to The Daily Beast, Parton made the donation to the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, which is researching synthetic antibodies that could treat and even prevent the virus.