Dolly Parton Bio: A Life of Faith And Hope Growing Up In Sevier County, Near Gatlinburg And Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dolly Parton, though a country music legend, never forgot where she came from. Dolly has done a lot to help her beloved community of Sevierville and Sevier County. In Dolly’s lifetime, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee have changed vastly.

The twin resort cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as well as Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, bring millions of tourists from all over the world. But, Sevier County wasn’t always prosperous, nor did Sevier County attract many tourists when Dolly Parton was a youngster.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee began to spring up as tourist towns during the mid to late 1960s. The area developed slowly at first and then more rapidly. There was also a small tourist attraction, which opened in 1961, as a sister park to Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. The park later went through several name changes and changes of ownership.

Dolly Parton invested heavily in the park in 1986 and renamed it Dollywood. Since then, what started as a very small attraction, became a huge magnet for tourists, encouraging development in nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee was created not for Dolly’s own profit so much, though it has been profitable, but to benefit her home, Sevier county. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge residents enjoy more economic opportunities by far than they did when Dolly Parton was a child, growing up in the Tennessee mountains.

Dolly Parton is still giving back to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the surrounding mountain towns. Ms. Parton supplies books for children. Her Imagination Library mails one million books per month to small children. While the program started in Sevier County, Tennessee it now serves 1,600 communities. The Dollywood Foundation also funds medical services for those living in remote mountain areas according to the Nashville Patch.

The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee wildfires have devastated Dolly Parton’s home county of Sevier. It is unknown how long it might take to rebuild all the various homes, hotels, businesses, and attractions in the area. Dolly is heartbroken due to the extent of the damage and plans to do all she can to assist her neighbors, as she always has.

Gatlinburg Tennessee Extensive Fire Damage
Gatlinburg Tennessee Shows Extensive Fire Damage [Image by Erik Schelzig/AP Images

The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee losses have moved Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation to donate $1,000 per month, for up to six months to every family in who lost their home in the deadly Smoky Mountain wildfires near Gatlinburg.

Dolly Parton was quoted in the Nashville Patch.

“I have always believed that charity begins at home. That’s why I’ve asked my Dollywood Companies.. and my Dollywood Foundation to help me establish the ‘My People Fund.’ We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires.”

Dolly Parton is a wonderful person#Dolly

— leatherhead88 (@_blazak) December 1, 2016

Dolly Parton was born January 19, 1946, on a farm in Locust Ridge, a small community near Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon, Forge Tennessee, according to IMDb. She was one of the 12 children born to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Parton.

According to the Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors Special on NBC, which aired November 30, Dolly’s grandfather served as a mountain preacher to a tight-knit community near Sevierville, and her uncle (her mother’s younger brother) gave her her first guitar and helped start her music career.

Dolly Parton of Sevier County Near Pigeon Forge
Dolly Parton by Wade Payne AP

In the 1950’s, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee were neither large nor thriving. Sevier county was merely a cluster of countless small communities barely getting by. Poverty was nearly universal, but perhaps Dolly Parton’s family suffered more than most.

Dolly Parton’s father has few job options in Sevier County, Tennessee in the 1950s. The Parton family got by, growing tobacco, sustenance farming, selling firewood, and anything else the family could think of to earn a few extra nickles. The family lived much as their ancestors had, for centuries, with few modern conveniences.

Dolly Parton recalls her simple down to earth upbringing in Sevier County near Pigeon Forge, which was poor in finance but rich in family and community, with much affection. Ms. Parton told Entertainment Tonight, she was truly thankful for her upbringing.

“I think my childhood made me everything I am today. I would trade nothing for being brought up in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve never been ashamed of my people no matter how poor or dirty we might have been. I’ve always loved being from where I am, and having the folks that I’ve had.”

Dolly Parton experienced extreme economic poverty early in life but is also quick to recognize the wealth she and her family had in love. Dolly was the child of a loving two-parent family, with equally affectionate siblings and many close friends, neighbors, and relatives in that tight knit community of Sevierville near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The people of the Smoky Mountains hold a special place in her heart. Dolly continued to speak about her family to Entertainment Tonight.

“It’s made me what I am. It’s that spiritual base; it’s that family; love of family; it’s just that simple life, feeling like part of nature.”


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Dolly Parton is, among her other many talents, a woman of great faith and a powerful sense of spirituality. Ms. Parton strongly believes in miracles. Miracles have happened in Ms. Parton’s life, many times and she expects to experience more. One could not possibly explain Dolly Parton’s life without mentioning her faith, her mother’s great faith, and their shared belief in divine intervention.

Dolly Parton, growing up near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains developed a love of both God and nature. Her mountain family, like most people in the Smoky Mountain area, were deeply Christian and believed strongly in the power of prayer.

Dolly Parton, though practically born with an ambition for stardom, was equally committed to Jesus, and an abiding Christian faith, as well as devotion to her family and community. Her life’s work as a musician and actress has not only served to facilitate her charity and improve Pigeon Forge, Tennessee but also as a platform to confirm the faith of others, who freely draw inspiration from Dolly’s profound life experiences.

Dolly Parton, raised in Sevier County near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, is a shining inspiration.

[Featured Image by Owen Sweeney/AP Images]