There was a Parton costume retrospective exhibition that runs through Oct. 31, an Oct. 10 “Opry Country Classics” show with performances of Parton’s No. 1 hits, and an Oct. 11 “Dolly’s Mountain Soul: Bluegrass, Americana & Roots Music” show.
But the big event was Parton and friends’ two sold-out “50th Grand Ole Opry Anniversary Celebration” performances on Oct. 12.
Singer-songwriter-actress Parton, 73, performed all of her biggest country hits at the two shows, including “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Joshua,” “My Tennessee Mountain Home” and Porter Wagoner’s “Carroll County Accident.”
Guest performers included Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith and Candi Carpenter. An edited recording of the Oct. 12 shows will air on NBC on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.
“I’m just grateful for all of it,” Parton said at an Oct. 12 press conference before her two shows. “Who knows when you’re starting how you’re going to turn out? Now, here I am at 73 years old looking back on my life and thinking, ‘I’m still here, and they’re still allowing me to feel like I’m important in the business.’ It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing.”
“That was always my dream and my daddy loved the Grand Ole Opry, so we’d listen to it back home [with] me dreaming of being on it,” she said. “The night that I actually became a member 50 years ago was one of the highlights of my whole life because it was a true dream of mine.”
The Grand Ole Opry originated as a live radio broadcast in 1925 and remains on the air today as the longest, continually-running radio show in the U.S. Being offered an invitation to join the Opry is a coveted achievement. To maintain membership, a performer needs to commit to a certain number of regular shows at the Opry every year.
Parton doesn’t have the longest membership in the Opry. That title currently is held by “Whisperin’” Bill Anderson (1961) and Loretta Lynn (1962). But she’s among the performers who have been members the longest.
Here’s one of Parton’s early performances at the Opry circa 1970.
That Parton has been a cherished member of the Opry for half a century is quite the accomplishment out of her many, many accolades! Congratulations, Dolly!