At 71 years old, it’s safe to say that Dolly Parton is among the most iconic figures in country music history.
With a career spanning over 50 years, Dolly is one of the most honored female country performers of all time and also one of the most prolific.
Her hit songs like “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” are instantly recognizable — even to those who don’t consider themselves country music fans. They’re two of the most frequently covered songs of all time.
Proving that it’s never too late to try new things, Dolly released her first children’s music album this year.
In a candid interview, the legendary country songstress opened up about what inspired her to branch out into children’s music and why she never had kids of her own.
Scroll through to read more about what Dolly had to say!
Thumbnail Photo: Wikimedia Commons // Flickr / Alan Light
Dolly explained that her increasing involvement with children in recent years led her to branch out with new music.
Dolly founded Imagination Library back in 1995 to provide free books to kids from the time they’re born until they start kindergarten.
According to the program’s website:
Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their homes, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could ensure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.
Dolly explained on TODAY that all proceeds from her new album, I Believe In You, will help to “put more books in the hands of children.”
Dolly timed her album release to the upcoming 100-millionth book donation for her library.
When asked about why she believes kids love her so much and why they “gravitate” toward her, Dolly explained that it probably has something to do with her iconic, exaggerated appearance.
“I grew up in a whole big bunch of kids — eight kids younger than me. And I just love kids!
“I have that high-pitched voice, I’m overexaggerated — I look like Mother Goose or one of those overexaggerated cartoon characters, and kids just kind of relate to that,” Dolly explained.
The singer also agreed that there is something about her enthusiasm for life that is “childlike” (but not childish or immature), joking that she’d told someone who asked why it took so long to record a children’s album that she was waiting for her “second childhood” in order to do it.
Dolly also touched on her reasons for not having kids with her husband of over 50 years, Carl Dean. Dolly specifically mentioned her firm belief that it was actually in God’s plan for her to not have children.
“God has a plan for everything,” she said. “I think it probably was his plan for me not to have kids, so everybody’s kids could be mine. And they are now.”
This isn’t the first time that Dolly has opened up about her bond with kids despite never having any of her own.
Back in 2014, Dolly echoed many of the same sentiments to People.
“I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life,” she said. “I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grandkids!”
Dolly explained that her siblings’ kids call Carl “Uncle PeePaw” and her “Aunt Granny.”
“Now I’m GeeGee, which is great-granny. I often think, it just wasn’t meant for me to have kids, so everybody’s kids can be mine,” she added.
Of course, Dolly also has godchildren.
She is the “honorary” godmother of pop star Miley Cyrus: daughter of country star and Dolly’s longtime friend, Billy Ray Cyrus.
“[I told Billy Ray], I don’t know if I’ll be around to where I can actually do all the duties that a godmother does,” Dolly explained back in 2012. “So let me be her fairy godmother.”
Dolly’s charitable efforts are so inspiring — she truly is a mom to all the world’s kids.
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