www.dollymania.net                News                          January 2004

Jan. 31:
Janis Ian's 'Dolly Week' Begins
"Dolly Week" arrived Friday at Janis Ian's Web site, www.janisian.com, and there's much for the fan to see in week five of her online preview for her new CD Billie's Bones! Janis' diary entry about the song is available, as are several various drafts of the song for which Dolly provided vocals, "My Tennessee Hills." You may listen to 10 sound clips of the two in the studio together, offering a wonderful behind-the-scenes peek at the two of them working. There are several photographs from the recording session as well, plus a rough mix of the song (albeit without Dolly's vocals). Almost all of the ebay auctions this week (ending Feb. 6) are all related to the song: copies of the lyric drafts autographed by Janis here, handwritten lyrics to the song autographed by both Janis and Dolly here, Dolly's vocal chart from the recording session autographed by her here, Janis' vocal chart for the recording autographed by both here, a photo of the two together autographed by both here and a color prototype of the CD booklet autographed by Janis here. Proceeds of all ebay auctions benefit Janis' Pearl Foundation, which provides educational scholarships for adults returning to school. The final week of the six-week preview will be up on Feb. 6, and fans will be able to buy copies of Billie's Bones online beginning that day, weeks before it becomes available in stores on Feb. 24. Visit the site here and click on "Week Five" to take it all in! Thanks, Tina!

Dollywood Getting Ready
Dollywood has sent out to season pass holders its annual flier advertising the new season, to open April 3, featuring the new Thunderhead wooden roller coaster. Some additions to the Festival of Nations include Irish dance troupe Ragus, Czech Republic children's folk dance group Valasek, German folklore group Thuringer, German stilt group the Zebras and Czech Republic folk music and dance group Trehusk. New for KidsFest is the Country Mountain Bear Jam (VeggieTales returns, as does the group of extreme sports performers and the dog show). New for Smoky Mountain Christmas is the Christmas Pyramid, an indoor European Christmas market and a new Old World arts, crafts and ornaments center. I'm told that the Showcases Of The Stars concert series will not be performed this year, and season pass holder preview weekend is scheduled for March 27. Thanks, Jason!

Another Review
Johns Hopkins University's student newspaper, The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, offered a review Friday of Dolly's Halos & Horns. Read it here

CD Collection Out
Back in October, Sony Special Products released budget-priced re-issues of Dolly's White Limozeen, Eagle When She Flies and Slow Dancing With The Moon, but when I was browsing one of my local CD stores on Friday, I saw that the label has also packaged the there together in a low-prices collection simply titled Dolly Parton and issued through Platinum Disc Corporation. I haven't seen the package on any of the online retailers, but check your local stores!

Jan. 30:
Small Slips On U.S. Chart
The tribute CD Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls 12 points to No. 37 in the Feb. 7 Billboard country albums chart in its 15th chart week, it was announced Thursday. The album drops six notches to No. 13 on the independent labels albums chart and falls off the pop albums chart after logging in a ninth chart week at No. 191 the previous week. Ultimate Dolly Parton gains one place to No. 74 in its 27th week on the country albums chart. The five-CD Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, featuring two versions of a Dolly cover, loses six places on the country chart to No. 45 in its ninth chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, featuring Dolly on "The Angels Rejoiced," inches down one spot to No. 55 country in its ninth week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its 12th week and loses two to No. 6 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 24th chart week and gains 44 notches on the pop chart to No. 27.

Same To The North
The Dolly tribute CD slips two places to No. 13 country in its 15th week on the Canadian charts, it was announced Thursday.

'God' Praised By VOA
Dolly's patriotic and spiritual collection For God And Country got a great profile on Voice Of America Thursday, although the story erroneously reports that she will be touring beginning in March. Read the article here.

In Other News
Dolly was also featured in an Associated Press story on established stars moving to independent labels, available from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune here.

Smith Gets NPR Plug
NPR's Morning Edition featured a wonderful interview with Mindy Smith by Bob Edwards on Thursday's program, and the network's Web site has an extended 23-minute version of the story, complete with Smith talking about her relationship with Dolly. "I know it's not common to have, you know, an icon like Dolly Parton to support you and get behind you as an artist and, you know, really reach out. She reached out to me," she said, adding that Dolly occasionally counsels her on her career, telling her to "hang in there" and being quite "blunt." She also explains that producer Steve Buckingham heard a demo tape of hers and invited her to sing on the Dolly tribute album, eventually asking her to sing "Jolene." Most of the new version of the song from her album One Moment More featuring Dolly harmonies plays during the beginning of the interview. She also discusses her songwriting, her family, her spirituality and more. Access the streaming audio here.

Great Pics Available
A reader came across photographer David LaChapelle's new Web site and noticed three of his Dolly shots posted here, here and here. Thanks, Bryan!

More Chances To See 'Parking Lot'
If you missed TRIO's first few broadcasts of the episode of the new series Parking Lot featuring a segment on fans at Dollywood's season opening earlier this week, you have many chances to catch it over the weekend. The network is running a Parking Lot marathon of all six episodes of the series all day Sunday. Episode 3, featuring the Dolly fans, is scheduled to air at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. on Monday, all times Eastern.

Jan. 29:
Convention Spaces Filling Up
Organizers of the Dolly Collectors' Convention, returning to Pigeon Forge this April for Dollywood's season opening after a two-year absence, urge those planning to rent vendor booths to do so soon, as slots are beginning to fill up. The convention, specializing in Dolly memorabilia, will take place from 9 p.m. until midnight at the Smoky Shadows Hotel Convention Center on Friday, April 2. The deadline to reserve space is March 8. Visit their site here for more information. Thanks!

Mindy On A Run
Mindy Smith is getting a lot of coverage with this week's release of her debut album, One Moment More, featuring new Dolly backing vocals on her cover of "Jolene." A profile appeared Wednesday on CMT.com here, and one runs in Thursday's Nashville Scene newspaper available here. And if you haven't gotten your hands on her awesome CD, order it here!

Train Profile
A friend tells me that the Tennessee Star Journal in Pigeon Forge has a great article focusing on the crew working on the train tracks of the Dollywood Express train at Dollywood. It turns out that every piece of the 1000 feet of track being replaced on the line is done by hand, just as it was 100 years ago. Some track is replaced every year due to wear, but extra work was required this year to construct trusses to connect the existing park to the new area opening in April for the new wooden roller coaster, Thunderhead. Thanks, Sandra!

Jan. 28:
Dolly Fans Rock Trio
Trio's new Parking Lot program with its Dollywood segment premiered Tuesday night, showing legions of the Dolly faithful at her annual season opening parade through Pigeon Forge, Tenn., last April. It was truly the most diverse (and most "normal") crowd on the program. There were older married couples, young gay fans, entire families camped out to watch the parade route and children who thought it was "pretty cool!" Some quilting elderly ladies spoke of Dolly's major contributions to the community, both through her charity and her businesses. Other spoke of how she never lost sight of God or home. "She's never left her raisin'," one woman said. "Fame and fortune never changed her." An older gentleman offered: "Dolly's the real thing. She's not fake." A younger man in a "Got Dolly?" t-shirt commented that she's one of the best songwriters of our time, a guy from Ireland spoke of his desire to have a photo taken with her, and a family brought out their life-sized Dolly stand-up, even placing a hooded raincoat over "her" when it began to sprinkle. A fashion student said she was the inspiration for his recent design show. Longtime fans Harrell and Patric noted, "Our house is 1,400-square-feet of nothin' but Dolly!" Dolly, herself, was shown on her float during the parade and stepping down from the float at the end of the parade route. Even your webmaster got a few seconds of airtime, once mentioning the site and the other holding up a photo with Dolly taken a few hours earlier in the day. The show repeats at midnight Wednesday morning, 9:30 p.m. Eastern Wednesday night and several additional times throughout the next week (see TV listings at right). The episode also interviewed surfers in California and fans at a Phish concert, although both of those groups were very different from those there to see Dolly!

Dolly's Letter Gets Press
Dolly's letter to her fans released on Monday explaining why her plans to tour in 2004 had to be put on hold to promote her new CD got a story on CMT.com Tuesday. Read the story here, and view the entire letter here.

'Oprah' Blurb
Dolly got a very brief appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Tuesday. The episode featured clips from her Oxygen Network program Oprah After The Show, and at the end of the show there was a clip of Dolly, Oprah, Alison Krauss, Shania Twain and Melissa Etheridge performing "9 To 5" after the taping of the main portion of their show dedicated to the Dolly tribute album last year.

Dolly On U.K. TV
British fans set your VCRs! Dolly's 1999 made-for-television film Blue Valley Songbird is reportedly coming across the Atlantic. In what I'm told is its U.K. premiere, the film is scheduled to air at 3:40 p.m. British time Feb. 6 on Channel 5. Thanks, Tracey!

A Nice Comparison
I'm told that on The Sharon Osbourne Show last night, Sheryl Crow was discussing her duet "Picture" with Kid Rock and compared them to the modern-day Porter & Dolly. I think Dolly would be proud, but I'm not sure about Porter! Thanks, Jaclyn!

Debbie In Dolly-land?
Debbie Reynolds may be coming near Dollywood, according to a Variety story on Yahoo Tuesday. The story said that since she has been unable to locate a facility for her extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia to open to the public as a museum in Tinseltown, Pigeon Forge is courting her to come there with the project. Read the brief here.

Jan. 27:
Dolly: Tour Unlikely This Year
Dolly does not expect to tour this year, she said on Monday in a letter to her fans. She explained that plans for a fall 2003 tour were put on hold due to the rigors of her public appearance schedule to promote For God And Country and Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, and appearances soon to be scheduled to plug the new single (and subsequent singles) from the new album make a tour unlikely in 2004. She added, however, that she does hope "to do some concerts in the future," although nothing is scheduled at this time. "I hope this clears up some of your questions," she said. "I hate to leave you in the dark. Thank you for loving me. And you know that . . . I will always love you." The letter, which you may read in its entirety here, was issued to Dollymania in response to an inquiry from the site on a possible tour following the receipt of several dozen e-mails from fans on the subject in recent weeks. Dolly had initially planned to tour last fall to promote her new patriotic and spiritual CD, later saying that the tour would be pushed back to spring 2004. I know her fans, myself included, would have loved to see her in concert this year, but I believe everyone will understand why it will not likely be possible. Thanks, Dolly!

More 'Oprah' On Tap For Tuesday
There will be some more of Dolly and Shania on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Tuesday, it was announced on Monday. Although most of the episode will focus on "The Man Who Discovered Oprah" when she was 16-years-old and got a job on a Nashville radio station, the show will also include "moments you've never seen" from after the taping of last year's episode in which Shania Twain and Dolly appeared to promote the tribute album. Also scheduled are never-before broadcast portions of an episode with rapper P. Diddy. The show is syndicated, so check local listings for the station in your area, but it airs at 4 p.m. in most markets.

Gone Down Under
Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls out of the top 20 albums on the Australian country chart this week, it was announced Monday. The collection, which had peaked at No. 6 Down Under, spent its 14th chart week at No. 18 last week.

Still On Americana Chart
The CD loses two spaces on the Americana Music Association's albums chart, coming in at No. 5 for the week, it was also announced Monday. The album, which had peaked at No. 1 on the chart in December, logged 542 spins at reporting radio stations, compared with 605 the previous week. Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, featuring a Dolly track, inches down one notch to No. 15 with 342 spins.

Smith Gets Raves From 'Rolling Stone'
Mindy Smith's One Moment More, which hits stores on Tuesday, gets a great review in Rolling Stone posted online on Monday. The reviewer says the disc opens with an "Appalachian-haunted, spiritual rocker" and closes with her cover of "Jolene," "featuring harmony vocals from Parton herself that heighten the song's gorgeous desperation." However, the two tracks are in contrast with the rest of the disc, it notes, finding the other songs to be "delicately arranged folk pop," but still very powerful in their delivery and songwriting. This is the first review I've seen mention Dolly's guest appearance, as it was added to the CD after preview copies were sent to critics. Read the full review here and get your copy of the disc here.

Jan. 26:
Canadian Film Update
Word is that the holiday movie for which Dolly had signed on back in 1999 is still working its way toward production. The film, formerly called A Christmas Rap but now under the title The Wishing Well, has completed second unit photography (less important scenes, such as crowd shots and scenery) in Ottawa, Canada, and Michael Clarke Duncan (of The Green Mile) has signed on to play the male lead. Principal photography, which would include Dolly's scenes, has not been scheduled and likely will not be for quite some time, as I understand. In the picture, Dolly will play the character of Mrs. Kavendish, and she has written four new songs for the picture, officials confirm. No news on whether the plot continues to center around an orphanage operated by her character where a harmless street con is sentenced to work, but that was the story line when the project was announced more than four years ago. The film is to be directed by Bryan Michael Stoller, whose previous credits include Undercover Angel, The Random Factor and Dragon Fury II. He is also the author of Filmmaking For Dummies, is in post-production on a Miss Congeniality/Cast Away spoof titled Miss Cast Away and is working on a film with Michael Jackson titled They Cage The Animals At Night. Thanks, Tony and Donald!

Review: Ian Disc Amazing
I received an advance copy of Janis Ian's Billie's Bones over the weekend and was simply blown away. Opening with an homage to Billie Holiday as the title track and closing with a heartbreaking tune written with country songsmith Skip Ewing, there's a lot of simply great music between, all written or co-written by Ian. Of course, my favorite track is the sincere "My Tennessee Hills" featuring gorgeous Dolly harmony, but it is followed in my opinion closely by a spectacular instrumental piece called "Marching On Glasgow." Other highlights include a jazz-influenced eulogy for Matthew Shepard titled "Matthew," the sweet "Paris In Your Eyes," tender "I Hear You Sing Again" (co-written with Woody Guthrie) and Old World-sounding "Mockingbird." The songwriting reminds me of some of Beth Nielsen Chapman's greatest pieces, and the instrumentation is refreshingly crisp and simple, mixing folk, country, jazz and a touch of the blues. The disc goes on sale in stores Feb. 24 but will be available from Ian's Web site here starting Feb. 6. Look for week five, "Dolly Week," in a six-week preview of the disc on her site to debut on Friday with some great insight, audio and photos from Dolly's participation in the project.

More On Library
Commentary on the Illinois governor's plan to take Dolly's Imagination Library statewide there continued to come over the weekend, with Sue Ontiveros of Chicago's Sun Times conceding on Saturday that the plan sounds like a good idea. Unlike previous columns noted here, Ontiveros admits that she knows almost nothing about Dolly's foundation or what books are selected, but she said she would like for librarians in Illinois to have some say in what books are distributed to children. Read her column here.

Some Friendly Reminders
Don't forget Mindy Smith's debut CD One Moment More, featuring Dolly harmonies on the bonus track, "Jolene," drops on Tuesday, and that night, the TRIO network debuts the episode of Parking Lot featuring fans at Dolly's parade through Pigeon Forge for last year's season opening at Dollywood! (The Oregonian had a great preview of the series here on Sunday.)

Jan. 24:
'Our Country' Review, Clips Available
The country music-themed IMAX project Our Country has come to Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Post ran a review on Thursday of the film, which opened at the Cincinnati Museum Center on Friday and runs there through April 23. Read it here. The film is also showing at Tinseltown USA in Rochester, N.Y.; Opry Mills in Nashville, Tenn.; Broadway At The beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; the Science Station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Place de la Villette in Paris, France; and the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas. It is also scheduled to come to the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa, in July and later this year at the Cinemark in Dallas. In addition, Big Movie Zone has added Real Video of both the theatrical trailer for the film and the full-length performance of "Turn, Turn, Turn," which opens with Dolly and just her guitar on a front porch singing. She's soon joined by several other singers and their guitars, including Kathy Mattea and Radney Foster, with the others taking turns singing the remaining verses, frequently with Dolly providing harmony. Visit here to access the clips.

'Parking Lot' In The 'Times'
The TRIO network's new Parking Lot series, premiering Sunday, got a great review in The New York Times on Friday, noting (much to the relief of those interviewed for the series, your webmaster included): "Another revelation comes at the level of the individual fans: they're not very crazy." The series, which interviews fans outside various events, came to Dollywood for its season opening in April to talk with Dolly fans. The episode featuring the Dolly segment premieres Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. Eastern with repeats scheduled throughout the following week (see full schedule in TV listings at right side of this page). Read the review here.

Ian Sneak-Peak Continues
The online preview of the making of Janis Ian's upcoming CD Billie's Bones continues with week four debuting on Friday. Remember that a week dedicated entirely to Dolly's contribution to the project starts Jan. 30. The CD hits stores on Feb. 24, but it will be available for early purchase and shipment from Ian's Web site starting Feb. 6. Dolly provides harmony vocals on the track "My Tennessee Hills." Take a look at the continuing preview here.

SPAM Warning
Readers may recall several months ago a spammer illegally began issuing messages which inserted a false sending/return address of dollymania.net to sell spy software. Well, it's happened again. This time, there are two. The first advertises a supposed sex enhancement remedy (although the link in the message doesn't open any actual page) sent out as SPAM. The second, which I suspect is a virus, claims that Dollymania is the recipient's Internet service provider and that unless an attachment is opened, the person's Internet service will be terminated. I have received dozens of returned e-mails sent to undeliverable addresses by this spammer in the past couple of days. If anyone receives one, please note that the messages did not come from Dollymania. Do not reply to the messages, and do not open any attachments from those messages, as they may harm your computer.

Jan. 23:
Label: 'Jolene' Is On Smith Disc
Vanguard Records confirms that the bonus track of "Jolene" featuring Dolly will, in fact, appear on Mindy Smith's debut album, One Moment More, which drops on Tuesday. The cut is Smith's original version from the tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton with one important change: Dolly has recorded backing vocals which have been added to the track in a style modeled after their duet version on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno last year. The problem with some stores and all of the CD reviews not noting the cut's inclusion came from the fact that the decision to add it to the album was made after advance copies had been sent out to the media and record stores. Thanks, Lellie!

U.S. Chart Updates
The tribute CD Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls nine points to No. 25 in the Jan. 31 Billboard country albums chart in its 14th chart week, it was announced Thursday. The album drops three notches to No. 7 on the independent labels albums chart and plummets 67 places to No. 191 in its ninth week on the pop albums chart. It falls back off the new comprehensive albums chart, down from No. 128 last week in its fourth chart week on that tally. Ultimate Dolly Parton drops nine places to No. 75 in its 26th week on the country albums chart. The five-CD Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, featuring two covers of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," gains 11 places on the country chart to No. 39 in its eighth chart week, earning this week's "Pacesetter" designation as the biggest position jump on that chart. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, with a Dolly duet, gains three spots to No. 54 country in its eighth week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its 11th week and gains one to No. 4 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 23rd chart week and inches down one notch on the pop chart to No. 20.

And Up North
The tribute CD loses three places to No. 11 country in its 14th week on the Canadian charts, it was announced Thursday.

Dolly In Run For A Dove
Dolly and Dottie Rambo have received a preliminary nomination in the 35th annual Dove Awards for Christian music. Their duet "Stand By The River," from Rambo's album of the same name last year, is one of 20 tracks up for Country Recorded Song Of The Year. The full album is in the running for Country Album Of The Year. Rambo also has a preliminary nomination for Southern Gospel Recorded Song Of The Year, and the CD and DVD of We Shall Behold Him...A Tribute to Dottie Rambo, which also features a Dolly appearance, are up for Special Event Album Of The Year and Long Form Music Video Of The Year. Preliminary ballots are due back near the end of this month, with the five largest vote-getters in the category announced as final nominees on Feb. 10. The duet's success had garnered Dolly four nominations in last year's Christian Country Music Association Awards, but she didn't win in any of the categories. The 2004 Dove Awards will be handed out at a ceremony on April 28 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.

Call It 'Dolly Weekly'
Dolly is all over the Feb. 3 issue of Country Weekly magazine, which hit most newsstands on Tuesday. There's a great feature story focusing on her new patriotic and spiritual CD, For God And Country, complete with a sidebar on Dollywood and one on the tribute album. There's also a shot of her with Melissa Etheridge on stage for CMT's Crossroads concert special in the magazine's "Out And About" section and a review of For God And Country. In her interview, Dolly discusses why she feels that it is the right time for people to be patriotic and to look to God for guidance, in whatever form he may take in their eyes. She also repeats her argument that she's patriotic, not political, and spiritual, not religious. About America, she notes: "In spite of our faults and shortcomings, it's still the greatest place in the world to live. Even if we are nuts!" On God, she says: "I'm not a religious fanatic. I'm not even religious. I'm very spiritual, and I love God. But I'm not trying to cram religion down anybody's throat, because everybody has to find God in their own way, whatever they perceive him to be. God can just be your higher wisdom or whatever, but we need something bigger than us to look to and believe in." The magazine's review of her CD gives it only three out of five stars but is glowingly positive, calling it "bold and beautiful" and noting: "This nervy mix of freshened-up oldies, glowing new original songs and scattered spoken-word bits will make you believe there's pretty much nothing Dolly can't pull off." Get the issue on newsstands now with pal Kenny Rogers on the cover!

'I Wanna Talk About . . . Dolly!'
I'm told that Nashville bad boy Toby Keith appeared on CNN's Larry King Live Wednesday and was asked about the brief shot of someone bearing an uncanny resemblance to Dolly in his video for "I Love This Bar." Larry asked if it was she, and Keith replied that it was a look-a-like but that he has met Dolly a few times and exclaimed, "I love that lady!" Thanks!

Continuing Illinois Press
Several papers ran a brief story Thursday on the expansion of Dolly's Imagination Library program into Illinois after a story made it to the Associated Press wire service. Read it on Yahoo here.

Indie Chart Update
Dolly's "I'm Gone" from Halos & Horns drops 19 places to No. 45 on the February independent labels singles chart published by Power Source magazine, it was announced this week. The song had peaked at No. 8 in the November chart.

Seely Does Dolly
Country legend Jeannie Seely last month released a new CD on OMS Records titled Life's Highway which includes a cover of Dolly's classic "In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)," here re-titled "The Good Ole Days." Seeley recorded several Dolly songs when both singers were on the Monument label in the mid-1960s. Her new album is available through special order at Amazon.com here or directly from her record label here. Thanks, Tony!

It Runs In The Family
Songwriting association BMI announced this week that one of Dolly's cousins, Laurel Parton, front woman for Nashville garage punk band Trauma Team, has joined BMI. The band's self-titled debut will hit stores in March. Laurel is the daughter of BMI Award-winning songwriter Candice L. Parton, who composed Conway Twitty's No. 2 hit "I Want To Know You Before We Make Love." Read more here. Thanks, Tony!

Jan. 22:
Study Gets Noticed
A recent study of Dolly's Imagination Library, the literacy initiative operated nationwide by her Dollywood Foundation, citing tremendous success in communities where it is active, got some press up in South Dakota on Wednesday, where every United Way in the state participates in the program. A story in Sioux Falls' Argus Leader discusses the study's results and offers insight from local teachers, parents and United Way officials in its success there. Sioux Falls was one of three communities studied in the project. Read the story here.

Expanding In Missouri
And the library is also coming to Marshfield, Mo., with the local School Board there voting unanimously to join up. The program there is to be overseen by the local Parents As Teachers (PAT) chapter. The national PAT organization honored Dolly last year with its Child and Family Advocacy Award in recognition for the library program. Read a story in the Marshfield Mail here.

Jan. 21:
Dolly Discusses Illinois Plan
Dolly on Tuesday released a statement reacting to the plan by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to use public funds to bring her Imagination Library literacy program to every child in the state. "I am thrilled Governor Blagojevich shares my vision to inspire all children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more," she said. "It's exciting that Illinois wants to join us. Maybe other governors will follow their lead and jump on board. The more the merrier!" The program, currently active in 260 communities across 34 states with its first international program opening in Canada later this year, passed the 1 million-book mark late last year and anticipated distributing slightly more than 1 million additional books in 2004 prior to the governor's announcement earlier this month. The addition of Illinois would increase that number to an estimated 1.6 million for the year, although it is unclear whether that is the total number of books to be given out nationwide including Illinois or in that one state alone. If it is in Illinois alone, that would translate to about 135,000 children, or 14 percent expected participation out of the state's 1 million children under the age of 5. If it is national, given that the program already planned to ship 1 million books in 2004, it would mean about 50,000 children, or 5 percent first-year participation. Either way, the initial price tag would be between $1.5 and $4 million, not anywhere near $26 million for full participation. The program provides one free, age-appropriate book per month to every child from birth to age 5 in participating communities whose parents sign up. The program is administered by Dolly's Dollywood Foundation, and local sponsors pick up the tab for the books' actual purchase price and shipping costs. Books in the collection are chosen by a committee of experts from education, child development, academia and early childhood literacy, and a recent study (see story here) found that the program has proven very effective in increasing parental time reading to children and childhood interest in books.

Critics Continue To Voice Opposition
Even so, critics of the governor's plan continue to attack the program. The News Sun in suburban Chicago this week offered an editorial by Charles Selle which stated that while no one could argue with the concept of providing children with a personal library, the $26 million cost is wasteful in a state facing a $2 billion deficit and underfunded public libraries, and he suggested that those libraries would be a better recipient for the funding. Read his piece here. And Central Illinois' The Pantagraph published an editorial echoing the concern that a $26 million expense is unwise in the state's current financial climate, further criticizing that the books will be chosen by out-of-state interests instead of individuals in Illinois and that free books will be made available to all families, not just those in poverty. It also suggested that the money would be better spent at public libraries. Read that opinion here.

Commentary: Critics Are Wrong
Most of the criticism aimed at the proposed statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program in Illinois is unfounded. Among the concerns:

  • The program's $26 million first-year price tag is too much in a state with financial problems. First, the $26 million estimate was for 100 percent participation. Programs such as this never achieve 100 percent participation, and it is even much lower in its first year, with several years' of operation required to reach anywhere close to full participation. Given estimates by the Dollywood Foundation of expected participation, the first year of the program should cost between $1.5 and $4 million, nowhere near the $26 million total possible price tag. Secondly, investing in the future of up to 1 million children by adequately preparing them to enter school is well worth $30 or $40 million a year. And the governor has pledged to find the money to fund the program. In addition, the key to saving money in educational programs is to replicate those which have proven the most successful elsewhere instead of spending money to research and develop something new. It is unwise to try to "reinvent the wheel."
  • The money would be better spent on public libraries, where children already have access to hundreds of books per year for free. Yes, most libraries across the country are poorly funded, and there are tons of books available there at no charge. However, studies have shown that ownership of learning tools such as books increases a child's likelihood of using those resources to their fullest extent and raises self-esteem. In addition, to use a public library, it requires parents to take the initiative and go there to collect books. These books are automatically delivered directly to the home. A 1991 study found that parents who were provided free books by their doctors were four times more likely to read those books to their children than those who bought books on their own or checked them out from the library, regardless of income; parents of low income levels were eight times more likely. A recent study of the Imagination Library found that more than 70 percent of parents participating in the program were reading more now to their children than before joining. While most library programs aimed at children are good and provide some benefit, very few reach that level of success.
  • The program should only give free books to poor children. Part of the philosophy behind the program is that it is not only children in poverty who suffer from reading problems and that every child, regardless of income, should be taught to love reading. About 35 percent of children entering kindergarten in the U.S. are not on an adequate education level, according to studies. Fewer than 17 percent of children in America live in poverty, so that shows that many more are entering the school system ill-prepared, and studies have shown that reading to children from an early age is the best method to combat that problem.
  • The books are chosen by people in Tennessee, not Illinois. The book selections are made by a national committee of experts from the fields of education, child development, academia and early childhood literacy who are just as, if not more, qualified than officials in Illinois to determine what books are appropriate for varying developmental stages of children.

    Smith Story, Questions On Track
    USA Today on Tuesday printed a great article on newcomer Mindy Smith and her upcoming album One Moment More, to be released next week. Read it here. However, the article and a couple of reviews I've seen praising the CD in recent days have not made any mention of the reported bonus track of "Jolene" featuring Dolly guest vocals. Of course, Smith performed a solo version of the song on the tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, but it had been announced that a version with both singers would appear on this release. Amazon.com and Smith's official Web site (here) are not showing the track as appearing on the album, but other stores (including CD Universe and Tower Records) and Smith's record label, Vanguard Records (here), do include the bonus cut on the track listing stating that it features Dolly vocals. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

    Conan To Repeat
    If you missed NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien in November where Dolly performed "Light Of A Clear Blue Morning" from For God And Country, the network has announced the episode, which also featured Rhonda Vincent on background vocals, will repeat at 12:35 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, Jan. 29 (11:35 p.m. Central on Wednesday, Jan. 28).

    Painting Unveiled
    I was contacted this week and asked if I would alert readers to a new portrait of Dolly painted by Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Charles Miller. See an image of the piece on his site here.

    Jan. 20:
    Almost Gone Down Under
    The Dolly tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton slips another three spots on the Australian country albums chart this week to come in at No. 18 in its 14th week on the 20-position chart, it was announced on Monday. The CD had peaked at No. 6 Down Under.

    Americana Update
    The tribute album remains steady at No. 3 on the Americana Music Association's albums chart, based on radio airplay the previous week, it was also announced on Monday. The CD, which peaked at No. 1 last month, logged 605 spins on radio, down from 641 spins the previous week. Also on the chart, Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which also includes a Dolly track, slips one place to No. 14 with 357 spins.

    Jan. 19:

    2004 Dollywood Events Scheduled
    Dollywood has announced its schedule of major festivals for the 2004 season. The third annual Festival Of Nations, featuring entertainers from several countries, will run April 3-May 9. The second annual Kids Fest is slated for June 18-Aug. 8. The Harvest Celebration and Southern Gospel Jubilee will be Sept. 24-Oct. 30, and the Smoky Mountain Christmas fest will open Nov. 6 and continue until season closing on Dec. 30. No word yet on Dolly special appearances at the park, although she did appear last year in June to open the first Kids Fest. As has previously been reported, the park's season opening will be the weekend of April 3, when Dolly always comes for her parade through town and through the park. I've also been told but haven't confirmed that her Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge will add a herd of buffalo for its 2004 season. The animals have proven a strong draw at the Stampedes in Orlando, Fla., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Thanks, Jason!

    Jan. 17:
    More From Illinois
    The proposal to bring Dolly's Imagination Library to every child in Illinois continues to receive coverage throughout the state with stories Friday in Northern Illinois University's Northern Star here and television station WQAD here. The latter story centers on the governor's singling out of Whiteside County, Ill., as a successful local participant in the program.

    And Elsewhere
    The literacy program also kicked off this week in Meigs County, Tenn. Read a story from the Daily Post-Athenian here.

    Jan. 16:
    Tribute Shoots Up Thanks To Oprah
    The repeat of the Dolly tribute episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show translated into a big jump in sales of the tribute CD dedicated to her, according to the Jan. 24 Billboard charts released Thursday. Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton earns the "Greatest Gainer" title for the country albums chart for the largest increase in sales for the week with a 15-point leap to No. 16 in its 13th chart week, reflecting the first week of sales after the TV show re-ran nationally earlier this month. It had peaked at No. 6 country. The collection is also named the "Greatest Gainer" on the independent labels albums chart with a nine-notch increase to No. 4, just two short of its No. 2 peak position. The CD re-enters the pop albums chart at No. 124 to log in an eighth week where it had previously peaked at No. 55 and the comprehensive albums chart at No. 128 for a fourth week where it had previously peaked at No. 111. The show also apparently impacted the sales of Ultimate Dolly Parton, as that compilation CD re-enters the country albums tally for a 25th chart week, coming in at No. 66. It had peaked at No. 20. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, including two Dolly covers, shoots up 20 places on the country chart to No. 50 in its seventh chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, featuring a Dolly cut, increases eight places to No. 57 country in its seventh week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its 10th week and gains four spots to No. 5 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 22nd chart week and gains eight notches on the pop chart to No. 19.

    Also Increasing In Canada
    The tribute CD also jumps up eight places to No. 8 in its 13th week on the Canadian country charts, it was announced Thursday, just one spot shy of its peak at No. 7.

    Dolly Fans Invade TV
    Watch for Dolly fans on TRIO later this month! The new documentary program Parking Lot debuts in less than two weeks on the cable and satellite network, and Dolly fans will be among the first to air. The series is based on the 1980s underground short film Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which interviewed Judas Priest fans outside of a Maryland concert. The documentary-style production came to Dollywood for season opening weekend in April to talk with fans, including your webmaster, at Dolly's annual parade, even using the site's name to say "Dollymania hits the streets in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.," in the show description. Episode Three, which talks with our "Dollymaniacs," Phish fans tailgating at a concert in Philadelphia and surfers in San Diego, debuts at 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Jan. 27, with repeats scheduled for midnight and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and 12:30 a.m. Jan. 29. Other episodes of the show include:

  • 1: Heavy metal fans at a Motorhead concert in Asbury Park, N.J.; Cher look-a-likes outside her concert in Atlanta; and sci-fi fanatics at a convention in Stony Brook, N.Y. (9 p.m. Jan. 25)
  • 2. 50 Cent fans in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Yanni fans in Washington, D.C.; and WWE maniacs in Richmond, Va. (9 p.m. Jan. 26)
  • 4. Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera fans in Phoenix; the fun of the Kentucky Derby; and a Civil War reenactment in Selma, Ala. (9 p.m. Jan. 28)
  • 5. Fleetwood Mac fans in Worcester, Mass.; a tattoo convention in Tampa Bay, Fla.; and a cat show in Tampa, Fla. (9 p.m. Jan. 29)
  • 6. Dixie Chick protesters in Austin, Texas; screaming fans at the Daytime Emmy Awards in New York; and White Stripes fans in Boston.(9 p.m. Jan. 30)

    Jan. 15:
    Ill. Gov. Taking Heat
    Some residents of Illinois are criticizing Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to bring Dolly's Imagination Library to all children in his state, namely over its price tag. In recent days, the governor has announced several education initiatives estimated to cost $52 million in advance of his State Of The State address on Thursday. The largest chunk of that expense, $26 million, is a plan to send a free book every month to every child from birth to age 5 through Dolly's literacy program. A story in the Champaign, Ill., News Gazette detailed some of the criticisms, and a spokesperson for the governor told the newspaper that he "feels strongly" about the programs and will find some way to fund them. Read the story here.

    More Library News
    And speaking of the library, it has come to the Topeka, Kan., area, with a kick-off held at a local public library last week. A story from TV station WIBW detailed the event. Read it here. Dolly's program, administered by her Dollywood Foundation, is currently active in more than 260 communities across 35 states.

    Dolly In Print
    Dolly and Melissa Etheridge's Crossroads appearance gets some coverage in the January/February issue of CMT's magazine, Country Music Today, on newsstands now, I'm told. A full-page photo of the pair accompanies a full-page article on their episode. A preview of the story is available on the publication's Web site here. The site also features articles on the year's best Cds here (CMT critics offer lists a little different than those published on the network's Web site a few weeks ago with Katie Cook giving Ultimate Dolly Parton the top spot in her list and both Chet Flippo and Craig Shelburne offering nods to the Louvin tribute Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which features a Dolly track), and an excerpt here from the Country Music Hall of Fame's book Vinyl Hayride: Country Music Album Covers 1947-1989 chooses the cover from 1987's Trio as one of the 10 best country album covers of all time. Thanks, Jason!

    No Takers For Carousel
    Even some last minute publicity from a news wire story published in several papers this week, including USA Today, couldn't get a buyer for the former Dollywood carousel up for auction on ebay by the Delaware River and Bay Authority in Cape May, N.J. An auction for the 1955 Allan Herschell Carousel, which the Authority had purchased from Dollywood eight years ago, ended on Wednesday with no bids. The opening bid was $40,000.

    Jan. 14:
    Park: No Holiday Shows In '04
    Dolly does not plan to perform her annual Christmas benefit concerts at Dollywood this year, the park announced on Tuesday. However, Dolly is expected to make additional appearances at the park this year in place of the shows. The concerts raised about $250,000 each year for her Dollywood Foundation, specifically earmarked in recent years for its Imagination Library literacy program. A separate announcement is soon expected about new fundraising projects for the program. Officials said that the schedule changes will allow for more Dolly appearances at the park in the coming season. Dolly's sold-out holiday shows had been a mainstay at the park since 2000, when they replaced the benefit concerts she had given at the park's annual season opening each year since its inception. Details of future special appearances at the park have yet to be announced. In 2003, Dolly was on the park grounds for its season opening in April, Kids Fest in June, a television taping in August and her holiday shows in December. Opening weekend this year is scheduled for April 3-4.

    Dolly To Host 'Flameworthy' 2004
    Dolly was all over the Web Tuesday following CMT's announcement that she will host the cable network's 2004 Flameworthty Video Music Awards in April. The third annual show will air live from Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central April 21 (tape delayed to 9 p.m. Mountain/8 p.m. Pacific). Tickets will go on sale at CMT.com, Ticketmaster and by phone (615-255-9600) on Feb. 14. Dolly tribute star Shania Twain was also announced Tuesday as the award show's first performer. Dolly is also scheduled to perform on the two-hour program. An Associated Press story quoted CMT General Manager Brian Phillips calling Dolly "the perfect host" and noted that Dolly's personality flows better with this more irreverent awards show, which is much more like something that would air on MTV than the traditional country honor fests. The AP quoted Dolly saying: "I like to do that kind of thing. I like to ad lib and let things happen. I kind of work without a net." (The story also confirmed she was in California this week shooting the first video from For God And Country, as was reported here earlier.) This is not Dolly's first awards hosting gig; she did the Country Music Association Awards in 1988 and her stint as hostess of the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2000 brought that telecast its highest-ever ratings. Last year's Flameworthy Awards were hosted by Toby Keith and Pamela Anderson. Brad Schmidt of The Tennessean broke the story late Monday night with a mention near the end of his daily celebrity column here. Read two versions of the announcement on CMT here and here, the Associated Press story here and a brief from Billboard here.

    More From Dollywood
    In other news from Dolly's East Tennessee entertainment empire:

  • Dollywood officials say that construction on the park's new $7 million wooden roller coaster, Thunderhead, to open in April, is nearing completion, with all concrete footings and piers in place, foundations for the loading station poured and three-quarters of the wooden framework already up. The 3,230-foot-long ride will feature a 100-foot drop and speeds of 55 miles per hour. The new five-acre area around the coaster, Thunderhead Gap, constitutes the 118-acre park's first size expansion since the addition of Dollywood Boulevard in 1996.
  • And Dollywood's Splash Country water park is working on Big Bear Plunge, a $1.4 million white water rafting addition anchoring Big Bear Ridge, a new area themed on the Smoky Mountains' logging industry of the late 19th century. The 548-foot-long ride will take visitors through dark caverns, wide bends and steep drops. "With our Big Bear Plunge, we've brought all of the thrills and excitement of white water rafting right here to Dollywood's Splash Country," Dolly said in a statement. "It's a great way for families to enjoy one of the most fun outdoor adventures we have to offer here in the Great Smoky Mountains." Passengers in five-person rafts will enjoy the scenery in open channel sections before being sent downriver banking through the treetops and plunging into the total darkness of two tunnels before being shot upward on a sweeping curve and crashing through a wall of fog before an unexpected multi-bump cliff drop. Splash Country, located down the street from Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., opens for its fourth season on May 29.

    Vote For 'Steady As The Rain'!
    The Larkins' video with Dolly for a cover of her "Steady As The Rain" from their debut album The Larkins isn't scheduled for airplay in coming days on the Great American Country (GAC) network, although it has aired in recent weeks during the late-night hours, and CMT has yet to debut the video. So everyone needs to get out the vote at both networks' Web sites to encourage them to broadcast this awesome song! Vote on CMT's MWL page here (click on "Vote For Your Videos," then choose "Other" and type in the video artist and title), and cast a ballot for it on GAC's weekly countdown page here as well. Shaunna Larkin-Kohrs, half of the sister duo and wife of former Dolly Bluenique Randy Kohrs, tells Dollymania that all votes are greatly appreciated!

    Jan. 13:
    More Illinois Library Press
    Coverage continued Monday of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's announcement that he plans to take Dolly's Imagination Library literacy program statewide. An Associated Press story linked here Sunday night ran in a few papers Monday, and independent stories were published in the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald. Among items of note from their reports: The state Legislature must appropriate funds for the $26 million-a-year project; if enough votes are gathered from state representatives, books could be shipped to children as early as July. Also, the governor said need of the program is evidenced in the fact that 40 percent of 3rd grade students in the state read below their grade level. Read the Tribune's coverage here and the Herald's here.

    Americana Update
    The tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton slips another spot to No. 3 on the Americana Music Association's albums chart, based on radio airplay the previous week, it was announced on Monday. The CD, which peaked at No. 1 last month, logged 641 spins on radio nationwide, down from 716 spins the previous week. Also on the chart, Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which also includes a Dolly performance, drops two places to No. 13 with 383 spins.

    Drops On The Australia Chart
    Down Under in Australia, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton loses one spot on the country albums chart to come in at No. 15 in its 13th chart week, it was announced Monday. The collection had peaked at No. 6. And Ultimate Dolly Parton, which had previously peaked at No. 3 country, falls out of the top 20 after being in the No. 18 spot last week in its 19th chart week.

    Sneak Peak At Jones Cut
    Norah Jones' label, Blue Note Records, has posted a brief sample of tracks from her upcoming album, Feels Like Home, including the song "Creepin' In" with Dolly. Visit their site here to take a listen, and reserve your copy of the disc, hitting stores Feb. 10, here.

    Dolly In New Cookbook
    Dolly has contributed her family meatloaf recipe for a cookbook just published by her good friend and duet partner Dottie Rambo, The Award Winning Dottie Rambo Cookbook with Celebrity Friends, Rambo's ministry announced on Monday. The book, released by Father & Son Publishing, may be purchased from Dottie's Web site here (Click on "Merchandise") or at your local bookstore. The 243-page hardcover book features cooking tips, over 100 photographs and more than 270 recipes from Dottie and her friends, including along with Dolly, Brenda Lee, George Jones, Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Randy Travis, Loretta Lynn, Vestal Goodman, Barbara Mandrell, Gloria Gaither, Rhonda Vincent and Johnny Cash.

    Disney Film Fallout
    Disney on Monday announced it is closing its Orlando, Fla., animation studio, resulting in the loss of nearly 260 jobs. It was widely speculated in November that the center would shut its doors following the studio's decision to halt production on A Few Good Ghosts, the bluegrass-soundtracked animated feature set in Appalachia which was being drawn there and for which Dolly had signed on to voice one of its major characters. Although Disney had said the film was dropped for creative differences and a concern that it wouldn't be "universally appealing," Dolly has said that one of the main reasons was that studio execs didn't believe a picture with a roots music score would score at the box office. Read more on Monday's announcement from CNN here.

    Send A Birthday Greeting
    Phil over at Voice Of An Angel asked if I would alert readers that he is collecting e-mail messages for Dolly in honor of her 58th birthday next Monday. If you'd like to submit a note, do so by Thursday and they will be printed and delivered to her Nashville offices. Please specify if you would like for your comments not to be published, as they will be posted on his site unless the author asks that they be withheld. Any response from Dolly will also be published. Also, do not include complete mailing addresses or phone numbers. Send your messages here. Thanks, Phil!

    Jan. 12:
    Dolly To Help All Illinois Children
    Dolly's Imagination Library pre-school literacy program will soon be active in all of Illinois under a plan announced Sunday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.; pictured at left), making his the second state to take the program statewide, as South Dakota did it in 2002 under a partnership among all United Way affiliates in the state. The governor in Dolly's native Tennessee, Democrat Phil Bredesen, won election in 2002 with his campaign centered largely on a pledge to take the program statewide there, but budget problems have prevented fulfillment of his campaign promise thus far in his term. According to an Associated Press story, Illinois plans in cooperation with the Illinois Hospital Association to present all new mothers with the first book in the program while in the hospital immediately following a child's birth. They will at that time be asked to register to receive all books, which are mailed one per month from birth to age 5. The program, which Dolly's Dollywood Foundation created in 1996 for Sevier County, Tenn., expanded nationwide in late 1999 using a contribution from Dolly to cover all administrative costs. Local sponsors pay the remaining costs -- book purchase and postage -- amounting to about $30 per child annually. The Associated Press reported the state's cost will be $26 million in the current fiscal year, assuming all eligible children participate. In December, the program celebrated delivery of its 1 millionth book, and officials expect it to pass the 2 million-book mark before the end of 2004. The library is currently active in 260 communities across 35 states. For the full story, click here.

    Flier: Dolly Shot Video Saturday
    Dolly may have filmed a video over the weekend for her new single, "Welcome Home," from For God And Country, according to unconfirmed reports. A source tells Dollymania that a flier circulated last week around Port Hueneme, Calif., calling for 200 Navy volunteers in dress blues to participate in the filming of a new Dolly music video at the Construction Battalion Center on the base on Saturday. Dolly had said she planned to soon film a video for "Welcome Home," the first single off her patriotic CD, but there has been no official confirmation of this weekend's filming. Thanks!

    More Tribute Reviews
    The Courier-Journal weekend section in Louisville, Ky., the Louisville Scene, on Saturday offered a glowing review of Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, giving it three and a half stars and noting: "The album is full of surprises and elegant moments, to remind listeners that for all her excesses — big hair, big breasts and Dollywood — Dolly Parton is no joke. The woman is flat-out brilliant and more than deserving of a tribute album." Read the full review here.

  • And Music Critic.com gave its review on Friday, rating it at four out of five stars. Reviewer Matt Cibula says the tribute is long overdue, as Dolly has a voice that is "one of the finest instruments being used in American music" but songwriting skills that are "even more impressive than her voice." He criticizes performances by Alison Krauss, Shania Twain and Melissa Etheridge but praises contributions by Joan Osborne, Sinead O'Connor, Kasey Chambers, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Me'shell N'Degéocello and Mindy Smith, calling "Jolene" perhaps the best song of all time and noting that Smith "knocks it out of the park with stunning wounded clarity." Above all, he says, Dolly's bonus track appearance "shames virtually everyone else by just opening her mouth." Read the full review here.

    Coming Again
    Fans overseas can look forward to yet another re-issue of Dolly's 1980 classic, 9 To 5 And Odd Jobs, which will be released again in England on Feb. 2 by BMG. Thanks, Steve!

    Ian Preview: Week 2
    Janis Ian's Web site continued its online preview of her upcoming album, Billie's Bones, Friday by posting several new items associated with the project, including audio files about the writing and recording of her song, "My Tennessee Hills," which will feature Dolly singing harmony, although her vocals are not yet posted online. As was first reported by Dollymania last month, the six-week album preview adds material each Friday with an all-Dolly week planned on Jan. 30, which will include photos, warm-ups for the song, recording outtakes and in-studio discussions during the recording session. Items related to the project are also up for auction on ebay each week for charity, with several Dolly-autographed items coming soon. Visit Ian's site here to see and hear what's been posted thus far.

    Jan. 10:
    Up And Down In Canada
    The Dolly tribute project Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton gains seven notches on the Jan. 8 Canadian country albums chart to come in at No. 16 in its 12th week, it was announced Friday. It had peaked at No. 7. And Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas drops out of the top 50 country tally, down from No. 22 the previous week. The 1984 disc had peaked at No. 7 in its annual holiday re-entry on the chart up north.

    Slipping On Idie Chart
    The January issue of PowerSource magazine is out, and Dolly's "I'm Gone" from Halos & Horns falls a dozen places for the month to No. 26 on the independent labels singles chart. The song had peaked at No. 8 in November on the chart. The issue also reprinted the Dollymania obituary for Dolly's mother.

    Jan. 9:
    U.S. Chart Updates
    The Dolly tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton gains six notches to No. 31 country in its 12th chart week, according to the Jan. 17 Billboard numbers announced Thursday. The CD falls four spots on the independent labels albums chart to No. 13. Dolly's patriotic and spiritual collection, For God And Country, falls out of the top 50 independent label albums chart, down from No. 42 in its seventh week last week. Halos & Horns, which had re-entered the bluegrass albums chart the previous week at No. 15 to log a 58th week on that chart, falls back out of the 15-position tally. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, which includes two versions of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," plummets 15 places on the country chart to No. 70 in its sixth chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which includes Dolly and Sonya Isaacs singing a duet, jumps up nine places to No. 65 country in its sixth week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its ninth week and loses six spots to No. 9 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 21st chart week and falls six notches on the pop chart to No. 27.

    Jan. 8:
    Dolly Cover Story
    The current issue of Arthur Magazine features a very interesting piece on Dollywood, chronicling one woman's search for herself and her sexual identity, which she discovered in the many layers of Dolly's Tennessee theme park and the life of Dolly herself. It includes a sidebar offering an overview of Dolly's musical career, and the magazine's Web site has an online story reviewing Dolly's cinematic career as well. Access a PDF of the edition here (be warned: It's a huge file) with Karen Bolender's cover story and the sidebar, and read the piece on Dolly's film projects here. Thanks, Solomon!

    Smiles For Scruggs
    Although she wasn't there in person, Dolly apparently got the biggest laughs at a surprise 80th birthday tribute to legendary bluegrass picker Earl Scruggs, held Tuesday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. Written wishes and praise were submitted for the celebration by Gov. Phil Bredesen, President George W. Bush, Don Henley and more, but The Tennesseean columnist Brad Schmidt said that Dolly sent in the best note: "I'm sorry I can't be there to party with you today. I bet we could still get down. Getting back up would be the problem. (Ha!) Have a good 'un. I will always love you, Dolly." Read Schmidt's story on the event here and CMT.com's coverage here.

    Auditions This Month
    Wanna work for Dolly? Well, if you're in the Cincinnati area, you can try out for a position at Dollywood from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Schiff Family Conference Center. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the park chose to hold auditions this year in Pigeon Forge (Jan. 17), Atlanta (Jan. 10), Nashville (Jan. 31) and Cincinnati because, as park spokesperson Pete Owens said: "Cinciannati actually does have a reputation as having quite a lot of talent." Read the story here.

    Get Norah
    Amazon.com has added a page to advance order Norah Jones' Feb. 10 release Feels Like Home, on which Dolly provides guest vocals on the track "Creepin' In." Of course, the pair performed together for the first time on last year's CMA Awards, where they offered a duet on Dolly's "The Grass Is Blue," which was Jones' contribution to the Dolly tribute album. Reserve your copy of her upcoming CD here!

    Jan. 7:
    New 'Jolene' On Its Way
    A new version of "Jolene" featuring Dolly is about to be released, it has been announced. Sugar Hill sister label Vanguard Records has added a recording of the song by Mindy Smith and Dolly as a bonus track to Smith's debut album, One Moment More, which hits stores Jan. 27. The track is the only cut on the disc not written by Smith, whom Dolly says "will leave her mark as one of our greatest writers and singers ever." Smith's solo version of the Dolly classic was the first single and video off of Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, and the two performed it together at several appearances to promote the project, but this will mark the first time a version with both singers' vocals will be released commercially. Reserve your copy of the CD here! Thanks, Michelle!

    CMT To 'Stack' Dolly
    CMT is planning to soon air an entire half hour show dedicated to Dolly's music videos, the cable network has announced. An episode of MWL Stacked on Dolly is in the planning stages, and producers are asking fans to choose their favorite Dolly videos for inclusion and provide stories of the impact the songs had on their lives. Visit the page here to choose your favorite and send an e-mail with your story. Check back here for an air date as soon as one is announced. The channel is also seeking stories related to her "I'm Gone" video for possible inclusion in its Fired Up! program counting down to its 2004 Flameworthy Video Awards. Visit the site for that show here.

    Calling Big Spenders
    Dolly's former carousel is on ebay. The 1955 Allan Herschell Carousel which formerly graced the grounds at Dollywood is up for auction. The Delaware River and Bay Authority had purchased the ride from the park eight years ago for $55,000 and operated it near Cape May, N.J., until 2001, when it was placed in storage. The opening bid for the nearly 20,000-pound carousel is $40,000. Read a story in The Press Of Atlantic City here and view the auction here.

    In The Press
    And the possible expansion of Dolly's Imagination Library into Spring Hill, Tenn., made Nashville's The Tennessean on Tuesday. Read their story here.

    Jan. 6:
    No. 2 On Americana
    The tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton slipped one spot to No. 2 on the Americana Music Association's albums chart, based on radio airplay last week, it was announced on Monday. The CD, which had taken the No. 1 spot on the most recent chart a couple of weeks ago before the countdown's year-end hiatus, logged 716 spins on radio nationwide, compared to 783 spins the week it topped the chart. I would expect airplay and sales to pick up this week following Monday's repeat of The Oprah Winfrey Show episode largely dedicated to the project. Also on the chart, Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which also includes a Dolly performance, remains steady at No. 11 with 442 spins.

    Stampede Show Stays A Bit Longer
    Dolly's Orlando Dixie Stampede is apparently doing a stampeding business, according to a brief in Monday's Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper reports that the holiday show at Dolly's fourth and largest equestrian-themed dinner theatre has been extended through Jan. 24 because of popular demand. The Christmas spectacular had been scheduled to close on Saturday. The Stampede also operates down the street from Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and in Branson, Mo., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Read the story here.

    'On Broadway' Actually On Broadway
    Wanna hear the stories behind some of the world's most-loved songs, including Dolly's first pop hit, "Here You Come Again"? Well, if you're in New York, you have a chance over the next couple of months as the composers of that classic, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, have an eight-week run at the McGinn/Cazale Theater on Broadway in a new show, The Wrote That?, in which they perform their biggest hits and discuss the stories behind them, including "Here You Come Again," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "On Broadway" and more. The show runs Jan. 15-March 14, and tickets are available at 212 239-6200. Thanks, Solomon!

    In Memoriam: Jake Hess
    The country and gospel world lost another great over the weekend with the death of Jake Hess on Sunday. He was 76. Hess, a friend of Dolly's, used to perform on The Eddie Hill Show, where Dolly got her start in Nashville. A four-time Grammy winner, Hess was most recently seen performing in Bill Gaither's Homecoming concert and video series. A member of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, which is housed at Dollywood, Hess performed with the John Daniel Quartet, Statesmen Quartet, The Imperials and The Masters V. He was a mentor to a young Elvis Presley and sang harmony for him throughout his career. Hess sang at Elvis' funeral in 1977 and the funeral of Hank Williams in 1953. Both Hess and Dolly performed on Vestal & Friends with their mutual friend Vestal Goodman, who passed away herself just over a week ago. Services will be held Wednesday in Columbus, Ga. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Read his obituary in The Tennessean here.

    Jan. 5:
    Site: Collectors Convention Is Back
    After a two-year hiatus, the Dolly Collectors Convention is returning to Dollywood's opening weekend, according to a new Web site devoted to the event. The site says that it will be held from 9 p.m. until midnight at the Smoky Shadows Hotel Convention Center (4215 Parkway in Pigeon Forge) on Friday, April 2, the evening following Dolly's annual parade through the city. Booth rental for exhibitors is $50, and admission will be $5 per person. The Convention was last held in 2001. For the past two years, fans set up the Blonde Butterfly Bash in its absence. For more information, visit the event's site here.

    More Dolly Shots!
    Reader Scott Littlejohn over the weekend sent in a slew of photographs of Dolly he has taken over the past year. See his shots from Dolly's 2003 Christmas concerts in that section of the site here, from her John Walsh Show filming earlier this year here, from this year's season opening for Dollywood added to that section here and from Dolly's 2002 Christmas concerts here. Thanks, Scott!

    Vote For The Larkins And Dolly
    Great American Country (GAC) has added the video of The Larkins and Dolly for "Steady As The Rain" to its selection of videos for which you may cast ballots in its weekly countdown. Visit GAC's voting booth here. And although I'm not aware of CMT airing it yet, you may click "other" and type in the video when voting for its weekly MWL countdown as well by clicking here and choosing "Vote For Your Videos." The video for the first single from the duo's CD The Larkins is next scheduled to air at 2:30 a.m. Monday on the GAC cable network.

    Down A Bit Down Under
    Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls back out of the Australian top 10 country albums chart this week, it was announced Sunday. The tribute album was at No. 10 last week, its 10th chart week, and had peaked at No. 6.

    Catch 'Oprah' Repeat
    If you missed November's airing of The Oprah Winfrey Show on which tribute participants Shania Twain and Melissa Etheridge performed with Dolly and saluted her as their greatest influence, it will repeat on Monday, airing at 4 p.m. in most markets. As the program is syndicated, check your local listings for stations and airtimes. The Oprah After The Show installment on the Oxygen cable network, which features audience questions for the stars and a performance of "9 To 5" by Dolly with Alison Krauss, is also scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

    On The Web
    The Country Music Hall of Fame has chosen a photo of Dolly by your webmaster for its Web site. A shot from her 2002 Dallas concert is featured on a page here encouraging Museum membership.

    Jan. 3:
    Newspaper: She's 'In'
    The Cape Cod Times offered its readers its annual list of who's "in" and who's "out," and Dolly made it. She's one of several stars on the "in/out/in again" list, which also includes David Letterman, Britney Spears, Diane Keaton, Sen. Hillary Clinton, epic movies, Napster, Southern rock and Bill Murray. See their full list here.

    Another Best Of Year Nod
    The year in review issue of gay and lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate is out (Jan. 20 edition), and its critics named Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton the seventh-best CD of the year, noting: "A tribute to powerful women—including Melissa, Meshell, Shania, and Sinéad—as much as to stealth feminist Dolly." Tribute participant Me'Shell N'dedgéOcello took the publication's No. 1 spot with her album Comfort Woman. The issue also features a cover story with another singer on the disc, Melissa Etheridge, and her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels. Read their full list of the year's top albums here.

    Still Hanging On Up North
    The tribute album gains one spot on the Jan. 1 Canadian country albums chart released Friday, coming in at No. 23 in its 11th week. It had peaked at No. 7 country, No. 98 pop. Dolly's 1984 holiday project with Kenny Rogers, Once Upon A Christmas, slips 10 places to No. 22 in the ninth chart week of its annual return to the chart's top 10, having peaked at No. 7 in November.

    Vestal Laid To Rest
    I'm told that gospel superstar Vestal Goodman received a respectful and celebratory farewell on Thursday with funeral services to remember the 74-year-old singer held in Nashville's Christ Church. Several hundred people attended the two-and-a-half hour event. Dolly was not present but did send flowers in memory of her longtime friend with whom she had recorded a duet five years ago. As Goodman's casket entered the church, "Mansion Over The Hilltop," her duet with George Jones, played. Remarks were made by the church's pastor, Rev. L.H. Hardwick Jr., who also read a letter from Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. Others to share stories included Dodie Osten, Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman, Rev. Marvin Gorman and Rev. Johnny Minnick. Songs were performed by Vince Gill, Tanya Goodman Sykes, Janet Paschal and Bill Gaither's Homecoming Friends Choir, which featured several noted gospel legends. All of the women performing with the choir were presented with one of Goodman's signature white handkerchiefs. Pallbearers were Steve Chandler, Aaron Minick, Jack Smith, Dino Elefante, Marshall Pugh and Aaron Wilburn. Honorary pallbearers were Ken Abraham, Harold Bradley, Andrae Crouch, Rev. Amos Dodge, Bill Gaither, Rev. Mark Gorman, Rick Headley, Dr. Harry Jacobson, Ronnie "Bear" Jones, Dr. John Oates, Gordon Stoker, Danny Boyles, Les Butler, Dr. John Dixon, Dr. Drew Gaffney, Dr. Marvin Gregory, Randy Gorman, Jake Hess Sr., George Jones, Dr. James McPherson, Rev. Earl Sherrick and George Younce. Thanks.

    Jan. 2:
    U.S. Chart Updates
    After logging a second week at No. 57, Shania Twain cover of Dolly's "Coat Of Many Colors" with Alison Krauss featuring duet harmonies by Dolly falls back off the 60-position country singles chart in the Jan. 10 Billboard tally, it was announced Thursday. The tribute album from which the song comes, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, loses one notch to No. 37 country in its 11th week and two spots on the independent labels albums chart to No. 9. For God And Country slips seven on the idie side to come in at No. 42 in its seventh week. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, which features two covers of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," falls another three places on the country chart to No. 55 in its fifth chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which includes Dolly and Sonya Isaacs singing a duet, drops a dozen places to No. 74 country in its fifth week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its eighth week and loses one spot to No. 3 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 20th chart week and falls seven notches on the pop chart to No. 21.

    Larkins Video With Dolly Airing
    The Larkins' new single and video, a cover of Dolly's "Steady As The Rain" featuring Dolly on harmony and in the video, has finally started airing on television! The video is in rotation on Great American Country (GAC). If you get this cable channel, it is next scheduled to air at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and 2:30 a.m. Monday. No word on whether CMT has picked up the video as well. The song appears on the sister duo's debut album, The Larkins, released in July. As was reported here at the time, a video featuring Dolly had been shot to promote the single. Thanks, Bridget!

    Remembering A Legend
    Billboard on Wednesday offered a wonderful story on the passing of gospel legend Vestal Goodman, complete with a note that she recorded with Dolly and including a quote from one of their closest mutual friends, Dottie Rambo. As was previously reported here, Goodman died Saturday night in Florida. Funeral services were held on Thursday. Read the Billboard story here.

    Library Continues To Expand
    Three new communities are considering joining Dolly's Imagination Library, it was announced this week. Middlesboro, Ky., Marshfield, Mo., and Columbia, Tenn., are all in discussions to join the program, which provides one free book per month to every child in a participating community from birth to age 5. The program, which has distributed more than 1 million books nationwide over the past seven years and will send out more than 1 million more in 2004, is currently operating in 260 communities across 35 states. For more information on each of these three cities, click on their names for the stories from their local newspapers.

    A Few More Pics
    Harrell and Patric sent in a few more shots this week from Dolly's Christmas concert, which have been added to their gallery in that section here (scroll to the bottom of the page). Thanks, guys!

    Remember Ian Roll-Out
    Don't forget that Janis Ian's online preview of her new album, Billie's Bones, which features a Dolly duet on "My Tennessee Hills," starts on Friday. The six-week launch using a "The Making Of The CD" project on her Web site will add new material each week, with an all-Dolly week starting Jan. 30. Visit her site here for more!