Dolly Parton is a music legend.
Her career spans 50 years, 11 Grammys, countless country music awards, and over a hundred-million records sold worldwide.
She’s released over seventy albums, and since her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she’s decided to live up to the title and release a rock album.
So she joined Newstalk ZB’s Hosking to talk her 49th studio album, Rockstar.
It features both original songs as well as covers of iconic hits, and on 27 of the 30 tracks Parton is accompanied by a whole cast of music stars.
When it came to building the album, Parton told Mike Hosking that it started with choosing songs she especially loved.
“Then you think, well, am I gonna be able to sing this song good and make the rock person that I’m stealing from proud?”
She said that she didn’t want to be just another country artist who made a rock album.
“If I’m gonna do a rock album, I’ve got to do it well enough to where the rock world will think, ‘Wow. You know, that’s pretty good.’”
While she didn’t get to record in person with every artist who features on the album, there were a few.
“That was fun,” Parton told the Newstalk ZB Breakfast host. “To actually get to stand there, get to talk to them after, you know, behind the scenes.”
It always seems like every famous person knows each other personally, but Parton revealed that wasn’t the case.
“I would actually... couldn’t honestly say I knew anybody other than Cheryl Crow and even Lou Harris.”
Dolly Parton’s genre of choice is country, so a rock album was a bit of a departure for her in terms of musical style.
She told Hosking that Kent Wells, her musical director and guitar player of over thirty years, told her that if she was going to do this, she had to be true to the genre.
“He said ‘you really need to kind of be true to the song, as true to the melody as you can be also, and still be yourself.’”
“I tried hard to, to try to stay in my lane so to speak,” she said.
These days, most modern albums feature between ten to fifteen songs, with twelve being the standard length. Rockstar has thirty.
“I always said I didn’t intend to do 30 songs,” Parton confessed to Hosking.
“I was just doing all these songs on a demo scale, and then I just kept doing songs that I really liked.”
With the completion of this album Parton’s done with the genre, telling Hosking that she’ll never need to do another rock album.
Country music has boomed over the years, the genre growing and becoming more successful globally, and in New Zealand.
“I’ve loved watching it grow too, and I’m just proud, you know, that people want to have that title: ‘I’m a country singer, I’m in country music,” Parton told Newstalk ZB.
With such an extensive career, last month’s release of her autobiography, and the upcoming release of Rockstar, there is one question: where does she go from here?
“I’m very passionate and very energetic and I have to focus that on something, but every new dream kind of spurs on another.”
“I have all these chances now that I have my “brand,”” Parton joked.
“I can sell cake one day and a rock and roll record on the next.”
Although she has plenty to look back on, Parton doesn’t dwell on the past, “I’m still looking to the future.”
“I’m gonna go just as long as I can and I’m gonna, I’m gonna create as much as I can,” she told Mike Hosking.
She plans to leave as much good in this world as she can, feeling that it’s her duty to make the most of herself.
“If I don’t, nobodies gonna do it for me.”
Rockstar is released on November 17th.
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