Dolly Parton teases upcoming projects in one-on-one with WVLT’s Kyle Grainger

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – WVLT’s Kyle Grainger sat down with Dolly Parton for a one-on-one on Dollywood’s opening day for the 2024 season.

Kyle Grainger: So Dolly, 39 seasons of Dollywood!

Dolly Parton: I know! I only just turned 39. How did that happen? I can’t believe it, though. It seems like it was just eight or ten years ago.

KG: We have been here looking at the progress of the park for the past couple years. We’re sitting in the brand new HeartSong. You kind of teased us this morning and said there’s more to come with the lodging.

DP: We said there was going to be five before we were done, so we’ve got several more in the works. This is the second one. This one is absolutely fabulous; it’s big. I still love the DreamMore, though. It’ll always be the love of my heart, because it was the first one.

This is just a wonderful hotel, though, and everyone seems to be enjoying it. I’m just proud of everything we do. There’s such class and pride that goes into it from all of the people who work on all of it. This is something to be proud of here at Dollywood. I’ve watched it grow for 39 years, and every year it gets better.

KG: You also teased us with some new attractions. Something new that’s going to be Earth-shattering.

DP: Well, it is! That’s how we tease the audience, but it’s true. It is going to be wonderful. Every year, we try to do something great, and this year, we’re really excited about our new museum, what they’re calling the “Dolly Parton Experience.”

It’s my life, and it is a museum, but it’s more than that, with all the lights and high-tech stuff with all our down-home kind of things. But it’s still family-based, and people will be able to interact with a lot of the things we have going on.

We’ve got a lot of new things and a lot of things to look forward to.

KG: When we look to the new museum, we’re going to have lots of different things that we can see and interact with and change it out.

DP: Yeah, and we can change it out, with the different costumes, and we’re going to have our own museum in Nashville, and we’re going to swap things out so people don’t get tired of things.

But it’s still a museum and the history of me and the way we present it from my childhood, and it gives the audience a chance to interact with us on a lot of things. I think “experience” is a good word for it because people will get to see different things than when it was a stationary thing. But it’s still the history.

KG: Including your outfits!

DP: Oh yeah! We’ll have several of the clothes that people have known that I’ve worn through the years. Some of the clothes from the albums or certain occasions, but we’ll also have some wonderful gowns that people love to see— the glamor.

It’s planned to open in May, and we hope we meet that deadline on May 24. I’m looking forward to people coming to see that.

KG: You were working with your niece on all that?

DP: She’s worked very closely with all the people at Dollywood. They’re a wonderful team here at Dollywood. She’s going to be a big part of my Nashville museum, and she’ll help swap things out so things stay new. It’s almost like a living thing, so things can change and be more interesting.

This year, we have a lot of wonderful things going on. I’m sure you saw the trio. And we have the sing-along with the “I Will Always Love You” festival that did so great last year when we turned 50. And the Broadway-type musical is done really well.

KG: This reinvestment in entertainment seems to be a big component of this year.

DP: Well, thank you for bringing that up. I’ve always said we should have more entertainment than we did because that’s who I am, and music is part of that. And I think the fans are going to love that as well.

We’ve always done great. People loved when we had the Festival of Nations and all the stuff that people got to be a part of, but we’re swapping a lot of stuff out. Like we’re having the Flowers and Food festival instead of that, because when COVID hit, we couldn’t have people from other countries and all that. So we thought we would make sure to have something great for everybody.

KG: Let’s talk about some personal stuff now; you’re a rockstar now.

DP: I know! I am. That album did really good—my first and only rock and roll album. I got to sing with a lot of great artists, some of them singing on the songs that they made famous. I’m so grateful to do that. We’re heading toward a platinum album, and I’m excited about that.

KG: And I’ve heard rumors about a gospel album?

DP: I would love someday to do a great gospel album, but that’s not in the works at the moment. I’m working on my life story as a Broadway musical. It may be that my next album is just the cast album. It’s a lot of work, putting on a Broadway show because I’m writing all the music and the book along with Maria Schlatter, the girl who wrote with me on the Christmas on the Square movie.

KG: Do you like watching WVLT?

DP: I do! I’ve been watching you all for years—great station!

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