www.dollymania.net                News                          December 2003

Dec. 30:
More Fond Memories Of Vestal
More media outlets on Monday began offering more details on the passing of gospel legend Vestal Goodman with a brief on CMT.com here and a nice story in The Tennessean here. According to the reports, she died in route to the hospital Saturday night while visiting family for the holidays in Orlando, Fla. She is survived by one son, one daughter, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Services will be held Thursday at Christ Church in Nashville with interment at Christ Church Memorial Gardens.

Dec. 29:
Year In Review Posted
Well, 2003 is quickly drawing to a close, and your fifth annual Dollymania Year In Review is now available, covering all of the developments in Dolly's life and career over the past 12 months. Read it here!

More Pics!
My good friends Harrell and Patric sent in some additional photos over the weekend from Dolly's holiday concerts earlier this month. Access their gallery here. Thanks, guys!

Another Best-Of List
Another best-of-year list includes the Dolly tribute Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton. The Denton Record-Chronicle named it among the nine best albums of the year, published in the Dallas-area newspaper on Sunday. The review noted that the CD "is not only the best compilation of 2003 — it's one of the best albums of the year, period . . . I'll wait patiently for a second volume." Read the full list here.

And Another List
The CD also makes the Cape Cod Times' list as the 29th best CD of 2003. Although there were a couple of folk artists in the list, the disc was the only mostly-country title in the paper's top 40. Taking the No. 1 spot was OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Read the full list here.

Back Up Down Under
And Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton re-enters the Australian country albums chart top 10 this week, it was announced Sunday. The CD inches up one spot to No. 10 for its 10th week in the top 20. It had peaked Down Under at No. 6.

In Memoriam: Vestal
Gospel music legend Vestal Goodman died Saturday night, it has been confirmed. She was 74. A longtime friend of Dolly's, the two recorded the duet "Satisfied" on Goodman's 1999 CD Vestal And Friends. An entertainer for more than five decades, Goodman had performed as a founding member of the Happy Goodmans and a solo artist, being inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame last year. She was known as "The Queen Of Gospel Music" and had won Grammy Awards with the Goodman Family in 1968 and 1978 for Best Gospel Performance and several Dove Awards as well. When their duet came out five years ago, Dolly said at the time: "Vestal has been my sister in prayer for many years. When she asked if I could be a part of this project, I just said, 'Tell me where and when and I'll be there.'" And in her 1999 autobiography, Vestal!: "Lord, I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now", the singer wrote fondly of their longtime friendship. Goodman was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Howard, who passed away in November 2002. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Almost No Dolly On CMT Review
Dolly was noticeably absent in CMT's annual review of country music, Noise Makers 2003, garnering only one passing mention at the end of its No. 4 segment on Shania Twain's return to the U.S. to promote her new album and tour after three years in Switzerland. Near the segment's conclusion, it was noted that Shania fulfilled her lifelong dream of performing with Dolly when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show together this year, and a clip was shown of Shania discussing the great impact Dolly had on her music and her life. The No. 3 item, patriotic country music and appearances, didn't include any coverage of her headlining the national 4th Of July concert at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., or the release of her patriotic album, For God And Country, on Veteran's Day; her comments in support of The Dixie Chicks were left out of a segment on lead singer Natalie Maines' infamous remarks about George W. Bush, which made the year's No. 2 spot; and there was no mention of the tribute album, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, arguably one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2003, the Associated Press' pick for the best country CD of the year and the reason she and Shania performed together on Oprah. The year's top story, appropriately, was the passing of Johnny and June Carter Cash.

Dec. 26:
'Coat' Back On Singles Chart
The Shania Twain cover of Dolly's "Coat Of Many Colors" with Alison Krauss featuring duet harmonies by Dolly re-entered the Jan. 3 Billboard country singles chart, it was announced on Christmas Day. The single logs in a second week at No. 57, the same position it held when it debuted three weeks ago. As has been reported here before, the song is charting due to radio airplay even though it hasn't been released as an official single (Twain's label, Universal, prohibited Sugar Hill from releasing it as a single) and therefore doesn't credit Dolly since she isn't identified as performing on the duet lines on the cut on the album's track listing, just in the liner notes. The tribute album from which the song comes, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, loses three notches to No. 36 country in its 10th week but gains one spot on the independent labels albums chart to No. 7. It had previously peaked at No. 6 country and No. 2 indie. For God And Country also gains two on the idie side to come in at No. 35 in its sixth week; it had peaked at No. 6 indie and the previous week had fallen off the country charts, where it had peaked at just No. 23. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, which features two covers of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," falls another eight places on the country chart to No. 52 in its fourth chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which includes Dolly and Sonya Isaacs singing a duet, gains 11 places to No. 62 country in its fourth week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its seventh week and gain two spots to No. 2 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 19th chart week and inches up one notch on the pop chart to No. 14.

More Concert Shots
Another reader, Jason Worley, sent in some great shots from Dolly's Christmas concerts this year, so here's a belated holiday treat for all of you out there. See them here and view other exclusive galleries from that weekend's events here. Thanks, Jason!

Sales Updates
As longtime readers know, Dolly's label, Sugar Hill, stopped releasing sales updates on her albums about 10 months ago, but Billboard provided them in a Q&A section Wednesday night. George G. Kitcghens III of Sunbury, Pa., sent in a question about her recent CD sales for the "Ask Billboard" column. The answer, based on Nielsen SoundScan figures of copies sold, was:

  • The Grass Is Blue, 195,000
  • Little Sparrow, 212,000
  • Halos & Horns, 187,000
    That means in the last 10 months, since the last update provided by Sugar Hill and published on Dollymania, Grass has moved about 9,000 CDs, Sparrow about 7,000 and Halos about 34,000. The column also notes that her most successful album since the start of the "SoundScan era," when Billboard began using the sales tracking service on which to base its albums charts in 1991, was Eagle When She Flies, which has moved 1.1 million copies. (Although it's not noted in the column, during this period she also saw Slow Dancing With The Moon pass 1 million copies for a platinum award and Home For Christmas, Honky Tonk Angels and Trio II each pass half a million for gold awards.) Read the full answer here.

    Dec. 25:

    Tribute In AP Top 10
    The Associated Press on Wednesday named the Dolly tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton the fourth-best album of the year and only country disc on their list. Reviewer Nekesa Mumbi Moody noted the CD celebrates Dolly's "least-celebrated aspect," her amazing songwriting abilities, calling it a "standout" among the numerous tribute discs out there. She also singles out Shania Twain and Mindy Smith for their contributions. R. Kelly took the No. 1 spot with his CD Chocolate Factory. Others in top 10 were R&B and/or hip-hop artists OutKast, 50 Cent, Erykah Badu, Beyonce and Ludacris, jazz singers Lizz Wright and Garage A Trois and rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson. Read the full list here. Thanks, Michael!

    Dec. 24:
    A Few More Holiday Shots
    Debbie Poole sent in a few pictures of Dolly from her concerts earlier this month. Take a look here, and see the other galleries from that weekend's festivities here. Thanks, Debbie!

    And Some Holiday Cheer
    An article in the New Zealand Herald this week asked singers of their favorite holiday tunes, and while Nina Persson of The Cardigans said she's not a big fan of Christmas music, she said she enjoys Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas, especially Dolly's versions of "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas." Read everyone's full comments here.

    Dec. 23:
    All Hail 'The Book Lady'
    The Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., had a great editorial on Monday lauding Dolly and her Imagination Library, the program of the Dollywood Foundation which provides one free book per month to children from birth to age 5 in 260 communities across 35 states. The paper's editorial staff opined: "Dolly Parton's talent and her generosity are a perfect match . . . It is deeply encouraging to see a world-famous personality look back to her own birthplace and make such a meaningful effort to ensure productive, satisfying futures for thousands of children she probably will never know." The piece had a couple of small inaccuracies, but they don't detract from its intent in praising Dolly and the wonderful work she has made possible. Read the full editorial here.

    Official: Florida Park Story Untrue
    A story in a Florida newspaper citing unconfirmed reports that Dolly was considering purchasing a closed Orlando theme park is false, Dollywood officials tell Dollymania. "It is an unsubstantiated rumor," a park spokesman said on Monday. The story, recapped here in Sunday evening's news update, said individuals associated with Cypress Gardens, which has been closed since April, had told those involved with finalizing a deal to re-develop and re-open the 200-acre facility that Dolly was interested in buying it. As was noted here, The Ledger, which published the piece, said at the time that it had been unable to reach Dolly's representatives for confirmation or denial of the claim. Read their original story here. Thanks!

    Stampede Noticed
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Daniel gave a good review on Monday to the holiday show at Dolly's Dixie Stampede dinner theatre in Branson, Mo. In a story on "Bad Santa and good Dolly," he contrasts the comedic film and the performance at Dolly's establishment, saying he enjoyed both. He rattles off the combined secular and spiritual themes at the Stampede but concluded: "Despite all of this, the Dixie Stampede show shouldn't be criticized for simply being what it is: a spectacle that an audience both desires and enjoys, smarmy critics be damned." The Stampede also operates in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Orlando, Fla. Read his full story here.

    'Mae' Mention
    CMT.com on Monday repeated the Knoxville News-Sentinel news from last week about the canceling of Dolly's planned Mae West bio-pic for ABC and her reaction to Disney dropping the animated feature she was to appear in. Read it in their news round-up here.

    Dec. 22:
    Could There Be Plans For Dollywood South?
    A Florida newspaper reported Saturday that, according to unconfirmed information, Dolly was moving to try to buy Cypress Gardens, a 200-acre tropical theme park in Orlando, Fla., known for its botanical gardens and museums. The park has been closed since April, and a land preservation trust has been handling a deal which would use $7 million from a private purchaser, $11 million from the state and $2.5 million from the state and county to re-open it, the The Ledger in Lakeland reported. An official for the trust said his offices had been contacted last week by Friends of Cypress Gardens and informed that Dolly wished to put a bid in on the project, but he said he would not consider additional offers on the property. The paper was unable to get confirmation of Dolly's involvement. Dolly opened a Dixie Stampede dinner theatre in Orlando this summer, the fourth in her chain. Read the full story here.

    Janis Ian Plans Major Roll-Out For New CD
    In anticipation of her new album, Billie's Bones, and its Dolly duet on "My Tennessee Hills," Janis Ian is planning a six-week launch with a "The Making Of The CD" project on her Web site, complete with an entire week devoted to Dolly's participation, her assistant tells Dollymania. Beginning Friday, Jan. 2, weekly additions to the site will follow the album from creation to completion, starting with images of drafts from Ian's notebooks of the lyrics, photos from the recording sessions and downloads of songs in various stages of recording. In addition, there will be interviews with Ian about each song, the recording process and more as well as outtakes from Dolly's recording session, including warm-ups and in-studio discussions. The entire fifth week of material, debuting Jan. 30, will be devoted exclusively to Dolly's contribution to the album. During the sixth week, rough mixes and the final version of the song will be available online. As an added bonus, Billie's Bones will be available for early shipment on the site on Feb. 6, more than two weeks before it hits stores on Feb. 24. Finally, several items associated with the project will be auctioned on ebay to benefit Ian's Pearl Foundation, which provides scholarships for adults wishing to further their education. These will include copies of her song notebooks, Dolly's autographed vocal chart from the recording session, Ian's vocal chart from the session signed by both her and Dolly and lyrics to the song autographed by Dolly, among other one-of-a-kind mementos. Visit Ian's site here and return to it beginning Jan. 2 for the six-week preview to begin. Thanks, Tina!

    Nice Feature
    The Decatur Daily in Alabama presented a great feature on Sunday about the family which received the 1 millionth book in Dolly's Imagination Library program because they live in the area. Read it here.

    Louvin Mentions
    The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, on which Dolly and Sonya Isaacs perform a duet, got a couple of mentions over the weekend. The Denton Record Chronicle in the Dallas area offered a review which summed it up with: "Every music lover should have Livin', Lovin', Losin' in his or her stocking." Read it here. And The Chicago Sun Times also praised the CD in an article about the Hall of Fame duo, calling the album "eloquent." Read it here.

    Some New Sites
    A couple new Dolly sites are up, I'm told. The fan site Dolly Parton World has opened, and a new Yahoo Group, Totally Dolly Parton, is also running. Thanks!

    Dec. 19:
    Paper: 'Mae' Is Dead
    ABC has dropped plans to film a Mae West bio-pic starring Dolly as the equally-buxom blonde, according to a story in Thursday's Knoxville News-Sentinel. Dolly told the newspaper's television writer, Terry Morrow, that the network informed her it would not film the project because it has decided to dramatically decrease its number of movies-of-the-week. Dolly also gave her first public reaction to the nixing of the animated Disney film in which she was to supply the voice of one of the main characters. She said that she believed it was dropped for many reasons, including the movie giant's hesitation to feature an all-mountain music soundtrack. She added, however, that they did like her voice and the way she looked as a cartoon, so perhaps they may tap her for something in the future. As you may recall, Disney announced in November that it had ceased production on the project, at the time titled A Few Good Ghosts, because it was decided the cartoon would not be "universally appealing." Read the paper's full story here.

    'God' Falls Off Country Tally
    Dolly's For God And Country falls out of the top 75 country albums chart, Billboard announced Thursday in its Dec. 27 numbers. The CD, which had been at No. 69 the previous week, had spent just four weeks on the country chart, peaking with its debut at No. 23. The album falls seven notches on the independent label albums chart to No. 35 in its fifth week there. The tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, remains steady at No. 33 country in its ninth chart week but loses up one point on the independent label albums chart to come in at No. 8 and falls back off the pop albums chart after logging a seventh week the previous week at No. 188. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, including two cover versions of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," falls another five places on the country chart to No. 44 in its third chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, on which Dolly and Sonya Isaacs perform a duet, remains steady on the country albums chart at No. 73 in its third week. Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas, which had re-entered the country catalogue albums chart the previous week at No. 25 for its first appearance this year and 40th week since it became ineligible for the main country albums chart back about 14 years ago, falls back off that 25-position chart. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its sixth week and falls two spots to No. 4 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 18th chart week and inches up three notches on the pop chart to No. 15.

    Holiday, Tribute CDs Still Selling In Canada
    The Dolly tribute collection and Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas each lose one spot this week on the Canadian country albums chart, it was announced Thursday. Woman is at No. 21 in its ninth chart week, while Christmas is at No. 9 in its seventh chart week this year.

    More Jones Details
    The Canadian music site Chart Attack on Thursday announced more information on next year's Norah Jones album on which Dolly will sing. The site reports that Dolly will perform a duet with Jones on the song "Creepin' In," the CD's title will be Feels Like Home, and it will hit stores on Feb. 10. Read the full story here.

    A Few Tidbits
    Dolly is in several publications at your local bookstore or newsstand now, including:

  • Tracks, a new magazine aimed at adult music listeners, recently put out its debut issue, and Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton was chosen as its featured review of the month. The reviewer admits that no one can sing a Dolly song as well as Dolly can but offers an opinion that most of the cuts on the disc are very good attempts. He singles out Mindy Smith's "Jolene," Shania Twain's "Coat Of Many Colors," Sinéad O'Connor's "Dagger Through The Heart" and Dolly's own re-recording of the title track among its highlights but says while Melissa Etheridge did a very good job with "I Will Always Love You," it's not as good as either Dolly's or Whitney Houston's versions, and that Me'Shell N'dedgéOcello's "Two Doors Down" only half works.
  • Rolling Stone's year in review doesn't include any Dolly music or performances in it year-end lists or news items, but she does get a quote in its news round-up from the year. It's about, what else, her breasts, and how she takes care of them like they're "show dogs or show horses."
  • There's also a photo of Dolly from the BMI Country Awards ceremony holding her ICON Award trophy in the Jan. 6 issue of Country Weekly magazine out this week.

    Dec. 18:
    New Fan Photos, And A Few Old Ones
    Another reader, Scott Littlejohn, sent in some wonderful shots, such as the image shown at left, from Dolly's 2 p.m. Saturday concert last weekend, where she donned a white outfit. Check out the main section for Dollywood's Christmas 2003 celebrations here to see his photos in the new gallery added tonight. He also sent in some of her John Walsh Show taping from earlier this year, which have been added here. Thanks, Scott!

    Dec. 17:
    New Photos From Dollywood
    Several new galleries of shots from Dollywood this weekend have been added to that section of the site including numerous photos by your webmaster from both the Imagination Library events and Dolly's concert and some concert pics submitted from readers. If you have pictures you would like to submit for posting on the site, please send them here! And check out the Dollywood Christmas 2003 section of the site here to access the galleries. Thanks! (Image at left by Duane Gordon.)

    Local Paper Praises Dolly
    The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., on Monday gave readers a wonderful editorial lauding Dolly, her life, her talent and her work for education, most notably the success of her Imagination Library literacy program. "Having achieved immense success from her modest beginnings, Dolly has shown that with dedication and hard work, not to mention a little God-given talent, we can all surmount our goals if we keep on plugging away," the editorial staff opined. Read the full editorial here (and see the newspaper's coverage of this weekend's Imagination Library events from Saturday's edition with a story on the 1 millionth book here and the study results here).

    Another 'Woman' Review Gets Notice
    The New Zealand site Stuff on Tuesday offered its second published review of the Dolly tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, this time originally from The Dominion Post. Giving it four stars, the reviewer praises Dolly's own talent for covering others' material and notes that the collection showcases her amazing songwriting ability as well. He singles out Alison Krauss, Shania Twain, Kasey Chambers and Dolly herself for their contributions but says Mindy Smith's "Jolene" steals the show. He concludes that the CD is "worthy of investigation for fans, neophytes and especially for cynics." Read the full review here.

    Americana Year-End Chart Released
    The Americana Music Association didn't update its weekly charts this week, instead releasing its year-end tally. On that list, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton comes in at No. 48 with 6331 spins at radio this year, and Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, which includes a Dolly track, is at No. 71 with 4926 spins. Both albums were released late in the year, so they were unable to capture a great deal of airplay when compared with earlier releases. Last week, the chart showed Just Because I'm A Woman as the No. 1 Americana album of the week with 783 spins on radio and Louvin at No. 11 with 497 spins.

    Giving Thanks
    Your webmaster has a letter to the editor in the January issue of OUT magazine thanking the publication for its November tribute to Dolly in its "Icon" section. The issue should be on newsstands soon.

    Dec. 16:
    More From Dollywood!
    A full story on the Imagination Library events from Friday with a few new photos has been posted on the site here, and anyone interested in reading the entire transcript of the event may do so here. Look for even more photos to be added to the site in coming days!

    CMT: Dolly Among The Best
    CMT.com's critics on Monday unveiled their lists of the best country CDs of the year, and Dolly is in there! All four critics included the tribute collection Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers in their top 10s. Chet Flippo gave a nod to the Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, which contains two covers of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter." And Calvin Gilbert included the Dolly tribute Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, opining: "More eclectic than the Louvin Brothers tribute, Just Because I'm a Woman is also more uneven. Still, Norah Jones does a wonderful take on 'The Grass Is Blue,' and newcomer Mindy Smith succeeds in tackling 'Jolene.' And if you still have any questions about Shania Twain's vocal talent, check out her wonderful version of 'Coat of Many Colors.'" Read their full lists here.

    Tilman Tribute Coming Soon
    CMT.com also reported in its Hot Talk column Monday that the Floyd Tillman tribute CD, The Influence, on which Dolly performs Tillman's first big hit, "Slippin' Away," will hit stores in January or February. The collection features the Hall of Famer in duets with, among others, Dolly, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and George Jones. The set had earlier this year been expected in December. Read the column here.

    Miami Reviewer Loves 'God And Country'
    The Miami Herald on Friday gave a very favorable review to Dolly's patriotic and spiritual CD For God And Country which was picked up by the news wires over the weekend and reprinted in several papers across the country on Monday. Reviewer Howard Cohen gives it three stars and notes that her "ebullient spirit, still terrific voice, and charming spoken-word introductions" make the collection "less hokey than it sounds on paper." He takes a jab at Toby Keith while praising Dolly's "warmth, intelligence and humor . . . without bluster" in the album and singles out "Go To Hell" as "delightful." Read the full review here.

    Dec. 15:
    It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
    Dolly was very busy over the weekend, handing out the millionth book in her Imagination Library literacy program (check out the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Saturday story here and an Associated Press brief which moved on Sunday here), presenting the Chasing Rainbows Award for the National State Teachers Of The Year and performing in her annual benefit concerts for the Dollywood Foundation. Look for photos (such as the one at left of Dolly signing an oversized book for the millionth-book recipient) and full stories on the Imagination Library and Chasing Rainbows presentation here in the next day or so, and read the review of the concert here with a few photos (more to be posted soon here).

    U.S. Chart Movement
    The Shania Twain/Alison Krauss/Dolly remake of "Coat Of Many Colors" falls out of the 60-position country singles chart in the Dec. 20 Billboard numbers released Thursday. The song, which had debuted at No. 57 the previous week, had not been issued as a single due to contractual restrictions from Twain's label but had managed to get enough airplay on its own from the album to make the chart, albeit without giving Dolly credit for the duet harmony on the cut. The tribute album which contains the track, Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, falls four notches to reach No. 33 country in its eighth chart week but inches up one point on the independent label albums chart to come in at No. 7 and re-enters the pop albums chart for a seventh week, reaching No. 188 (it had peaked at No. 55). Dolly's patriotic and spiritual collection, For God And Country, falls another five places in its fourth chart week to come in at No. 69 country. It had peaked at its No. 23 debut. The CD drops two on the independent labels albums chart, coming in at No. 28. The Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, including two cover versions of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," falls 16 places on the country chart to No. 39 in its second chart week. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, on which Dolly and Sonya Isaacs sing "The Angels Rejoiced," re-enters the 75-position country albums chart at No. 73 to log in a second week on the country albums chart; it had previously spent one week at No. 61. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its fifth week and gains five spots to No. 2 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 17th chart week and inches up seven notches on the pop chart to come in at No. 18.

    And Up North
    The Dolly tribute collection drops two spots to No. 20 country in its eighth chart week in Canada, it was announced Thursday. And Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas, inches down one place to No. 8 country in its sixth chart week this year, down from its peak at No. 7 the previous week.

    Plus Some Reviews
    Two Washington, D.C., area newspapers last week gave their opinions of the tribute album, with the Metro Weekly saying here on Thursday that the album is due since her "ample talent as a first-rate songwriter is under-appreciated." The reviewer disliked Kasey Chambers' "Little Sparrow" but praised Mindy Smith's "Jolene" and Melissa Etheridge's "I Will Always Love You," although complaining that the radio overexposure of previous versions of the song will prevent Etheridge's husky version from getting much notice.

  • The Washington Blade on Friday noted that "Dolly has influenced just about every country and rock singer who cares to admit it," lauding contributions by just about everyone involved and saying the collection is "worthwhile." Read the review here.
  • And The Denver Post on Sunday ranked the CD at No. 3 in its list of the best country albums of the year. Read the full tally here.

    Another Overseas TV Listing
    More great news for British readers, I'm told that BBC2 is scheduled to air Dolly's Unlikely Angel at 2 p.m. Dec. 17. Thanks, Rachel and Jonathan!

    Dec. 11-14:
    Documentary To Repeat In England
    Those of you who overseas may have missed the wildly successful documentary Dolly Parton: Platinum Blonde when it first aired in January will get a second chance. I'm told that the special is set to repeat at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 on BBC4 in Great Britain. Thanks, Jonathan!

    Voters: 'Dollymania' One Of The Best
    Dollymania ranked No. 82 out of the thousands of music sites on the Internet in the annual Interactive Music Awards in Great Britain, it was announced on Tuesday night when the list of the top 500 sites were unveiled. The awards program typically garners between 100,000 and 150,000 votes for the Peoples' Choice Award in the month or so that ballots are accepted each year. Last year, Dollymania ranked at No. 102 in this category, up from No. 477 in 2000. Westlife.com, the official site for boy band Westlife repeated at No. 1 again this year in the Peoples' Choice category and took home the prize for Best Official Site. Ateaseweb.com, a fan site dedicated to Radiohead, came in third overall and won the Best Fan Site award. The annual music awards program is organized by British Telecommunications and is co-sponsored by London's Evening Standard newspaper, with other national and international companies sponsoring many of the individual awards. Thanks to everyone who voted!

    A Brief Hiatus
    There won't be any updates for a few days, as your webmaster heads off to Dollywood for Dolly's annual benefit concerts for the Dollywood Foundation.

    Dec. 10:
    Legion Likes Dolly
    If you are a veteran or have a friend or family member who is one, the American Legion is offering a special treat for those giving family gift memberships, a free copy of Dolly's patriotic and spiritual CD For God And Country. For more information, visit their site here.

    'Christmas' Overseas
    Fans over in the U.K. won't be left out of Dolly television this holiday, as the British Hallmark Channel has scheduled two airings of A Smoky Mountain Christmas, at 6 a.m. Dec. 22 and 3 p.m. Dec. 23. Thanks, Paul at Dolly Parton World!

    Another Avenue For Sympathies
    I was contacted on Tuesday by someone who said they were friends with the Parton family and had taken e-mail condolences for the family when Dolly's father died three years ago and presented them in a scrapbook to Dolly's sister Willadenne, who accepted them for a grateful family. They have decided again to offer their services to accept from fans and present to the family messages of sympathy for the passing of Dolly's mother. E-mails will be accepted through Jan. 19 at Partonfamily@excite.com. Messages should be no longer than one paragraph and not include any addresses or phone numbers. Also, they should not single Dolly out, as the entire family is grieving the loss. Thanks.

    Dec. 9:
    Avie Lee's Passing Covered
    The Associated Press picked up the story of the death of Dolly's mother, Avie Lee Parton, on Monday, and it began appearing in online editions of newspapers and television stations on Monday evening, as well as CMT.com's news section (although it incorrectly stated that she is survived by 10 children instead of 11). Read it in The Tennessean here, and scroll down for her obituary. In addition, many readers have written asking about ways to express their sympathies to the Parton family. The funeral home has a virtual memorial book posted here where messages may be left.

    Concert Update
    Several readers have written since the news of Avie Lee's passing to inquire about possible schedule changes in this weekend's annual Dolly benefit concerts for the Dollywood Foundation at Dollywood. Park officials tell Dollymania that as of Monday, they are unaware of any schedule changes for the sold-out shows, which are to take place at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Thanks.

    Tribute No. 1!
    The Dolly tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton was the most-played Americana-genre CD in America last week, according to the Americana Music Association, which tracks radio airplay. The CD moved up two spots to No. 1 for the week, it was announced Monday, with 783 spins at radio nationwide, compared to 729 the week before. In addition, Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, on which Dolly performs, inches up two spots to No. 11 with 497 spins, and the new Johnny Cash boxed set, Unearthed, featuring two covers of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," debuts in the top 40 at No. 36 with 228 spins.

    Vince Talks Up Dolly
    I'm told that on Sunday's Larry King Live on CNN featuring Vince Gill and Amy Grant, they were asked why country fans are better able to mingle with country stars than artists of other genres, and Gill replied that it was due in large part to most of the artists' humble beginnings. As an example, he singled out Dolly's renowned rags-to-riches saga, noting as images of Dolly were shown that she grew up in poverty but longed to wear fancy clothes and dress up in wigs, but her beginnings are reflected in the person that she is and that she never forgets where she once was. Thanks!

    Dec. 8:
    Down A Bit Down Under
    Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls out of the top 10 Australian country albums on the charts released Sunday, down from last week's No. 8 spot in its seventh chart week. It had peaked at No. 6.

    Dolly Influenced REM
    In a story in Sunday's London Times, REM front man Michael Stipe offered a list of his favorite songwriters, and among them is Dolly. Others on his list are Jimmy Webb, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette and Neil Diamond. Read the interview here.

    Stampede Successes
    Sunday's Orlando Sentinel says things are going very well for Dolly's Florida Dixie Stampede. The newspaper said at the end of a story here that some days during the holiday have five shows scheduled, and as many as 80,000 visitors could dine there this month, second only to its original location in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., near Dollywood. The equestrian-themed dinner theatres, also located in Myrtle Beach and Branson, feature a special holiday show throughout the season.

    And On The U.S. Indie Side
    Dolly's "I'm Gone" from Halos & Horns loses six spots on the December PowerSource independent label singles chart to come in at No. 14, down from its peak at No. 8 in November.

    Crisler Duet Gets Some Press
    Country Weekly magazine will offer a feature Aaron Crisler and the guest appearance of Dolly on his debut album, In Good Hands, in the issue to hit newsstands on Tuesday, the singer tells Dollymania. You may order his CD with Dolly's duet of her spiritual number "High And Mighty" from his Web site here.

    Dec. 7:
    In Memoriam: Avie Lee Parton, 80
    Avie Lee Caroline Owens Parton, the mother of Dolly Parton, died Dec. 5, 2003. She was 80. Family members who contacted Dollymania said she passed at approximately 10:30 p.m. Friday. Arrangements are being handled by Atchley Funeral Home in Sevierville, Tenn. The family will receive friends Monday evening at the funeral home. Interment will be at Caton's Chapel Cemetery. Married to Robert Lee Parton at the age of 15 in 1939, she was the mother of 12 children, many of whom went on to careers in music. She had recorded several albums of hymns and mountain music herself, and her children had recorded her arrangements of traditional songs as well. She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Robert Lee Parton, in November 2000; a son, Larry G. Parton; her parents, the Rev. Jake and Rena Valentine Owens; a sister and brother-in-law, Estelle and Dot Watson; and two brothers, Lester Owens and Robert "John Henry" Owens. Survivors include 11 children and their spouses, Willadeene Parton, David and Kay Parton, Denver and Carolyn Parton, Dolly and Carl Dean, Bobby and Angie Parton, Stella Parton, Cassie and Scott King, Randy and Deb Parton, Freida Parton, Floyd Parton and Rachel and Eric George; 14 grandchildren, Mitchell Blalock, Donna Lashlee, Dena Bell, Chris Parton, Jennifer Linkous, Clint Parton, Danielle Prince, Bryan and Rebecca Seaver, Tim Rauhoff, Tever and Heidi Lou Parton, Jada Andersen and Hannah Dennison; four great-grandchildren, Jordan Bell, Jared Bell, Ian Parton and Lucas Townsend; a sister, Dorothy Jo Owens; three brothers and their spouses, Lewis and Colleen Owens, Bill and Sandy Owens and Alden and Barbara Owens; and a host of nieces and nephews and special friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Parton family.

    Dec. 6:
    Jones Duet Noted In Paper
    USA Today on Friday offered a story on Norah Jones' upcoming sophomore album, confirming that Dolly is among the guest artists performing on the still-untitled disc, which should be released in February. As you may recall, she said while on Late Night With Conan O'Brien last month that while in New York she was recording a song with Jones, with whom she had performed "The Grass Is Blue" on this year's CMA Awards. Read the story here.

    Dunn: Dolly 'Stronger Than I Thought'
    Dolly got some props from Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn in an interview posted Friday on CMT.com. In discussing the Grammy-nominated tribute disc Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, for which both his duo and Dolly contributed songs, he listed some of his favorite tracks, and when he got to Dolly's cut, he immediately went into a subject completely unrelated to the project, saying: "You know, Dolly blew me away on that Crossroads special you guys are airing with … who was it? …(Interviewer: Melissa Etheridge?) Yeah. … Dolly! She's a lot stronger than I thought. I mean, she's good! She just stepped up and hit it! She did a great job on that." Of course, we all knew she was good before the special, which is repeating throughout this month on CMT. Read the full interview here.

    New Tribute Review
    The New Zealand Herald on Saturday will include a very praiseful review of the tribute collection Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton, giving it four out of five stars. Reviewer Graham Reid noted that it "includes some of the finest, most sympathetic and diverse women singers and interpreters around paying tribute to Dolly's assertive and often uncompromising lyrics." He concludes: "It's a strong collection and reinforces the emotional depth of Parton's songs." Read the full review here.

    Cash Review Praises Dolly Cuts
    The Scotsman this week named Johnny Cash's new boxed set Unearthed its CD Of The Week, listing the two "careworn versions" of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter" on the collection among its highlights. Read the story here and order your copy of the set here.

    Holiday Fun
    Friday's The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., gave a raving review Friday for the holiday show at Dolly's Dixie Stampede dinner theatre in town, saying: "'Christmas at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede' should feed any appetite for food and holiday fun." Read the review here.

    Vince Gets Six-Times Platinum
    Vince Gill's greatest hits collection, Souvenirs, which includes the duet of "I Will Always Love You" with Dolly, was recently certified by the RIAA for selling more than 6 million copies since its 1995 release, it was announced this week.

    Holiday Sounds
    The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Friday offered its critics' opinion on the best renditions ever of just about every Christmas song out there, and for "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" they chose Dolly's version from her 1990 collection Home For Christmas. Read their full list here, and click on the title above to order Dolly's only solo holiday album and on the titles below to bring some more Dolly Christmas spirit into your house this month!

  • Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable (1975 -- Dolly, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young provide harmony on the title track)
  • Kenny & Dolly: Once Upon a Christmas (1984)
  • Annabelle's Wish Soundtrack (1997 -- Dolly performs "Silent Night" and "Something Bigger Than Me")
  • Selah: Rose Of Bethlehem (2002 -- Dolly duet on "Once Upon A Christmas")
  • Patty Loveless: Bluegrass, White Snow - A Mountain Christmas (2002: Dolly and Ricky Skaggs harmony on the title track)
  • 1996's Unlikely Angel (DVD)
  • 1994's The Magic School Bus Holiday Special (DVD)

    Dec. 5:
    'Coat,' Cash Debut On U.S. Chart
    Dolly is back on radio, the new charts released by Billboard on Thursday indicate, even if she doesn't get credit for it this time. The new version of "Coat Of Many Colors" from Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton debuts on the Dec. 13 country singles chart at No. 57. The song is credited to "Shania Twain With Alison Krauss & Union Station," since that is the way it is listed on the album. However, while most people think that is Alison singing the duet harmony lines during the song, it's not -- it's Dolly, who is credited on the album's liner notes for her contribution to the recording. The song has not been released as an official single off of the project, which means that radio likes it so much that it's getting fairly good airplay on its own. Since there's no official single on which Sugar Hill Records could add "Featuring Dolly Parton" to the artists' name, she doesn't get chart credit for it. In other chart news, For God And Country, Dolly patriotic and spiritual CD, falls another 15 notches in its third chart week to come in at No. 64 country. It had peaked at its No. 23 debut. The CD drops 13 places on the independent labels albums chart in its third week, coming in at No. 26. The tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton falls four spots to No. 29 country for its seventh chart week and three points to No. 8 on the indie albums side. The CD falls off the 200-position pop and comprehensive albums charts, down from No. 172 and No. 198, respectively, last week. The massive five-disc Johnny Cash boxed set Unearthed, featuring 64 unreleased tracks from the last years of his career including two cover versions of Dolly's "I'm A Drifter," is the week's highest-debuting country CD, giving it the "Hot Shot Debut" distinction at No. 33. The tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, on which Dolly and Sonya Isaacs sing "The Angels Rejoiced," drops off the 75-position country albums chart after logging just one week on the tally, where it was at No. 61 last week. Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all, remains at No. 1 country for its fourth week and gains three spots to No. 6 pop, while Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume 2 remains at No. 2 country in its 16th chart week but loses nine notches on the pop chart to come in at No. 25.

    Grammy Nomination No. 41
    Dolly earned her 41st Grammy nomination when the potential winners for next year's awards were announced on Thursday morning. Her single "I'm Gone" from Halos & Horns will face off against the late June Carter Cash's "Keep On The Sunny Side," Patty Loveless' "On Your Way Home," Martina McBride's "This One's For The Girls" and Shania Twain's "Forever And Always" for Best Female Country Vocal Performance when awards are handed out in Los Angeles on Feb. 8. It is her 18th nomination in a category which she has previously won three times. She has received a total of seven Grammy Awards, most recently in this same category when "Shine" from Little Sparrow earned her the trophy in 2002. Her most recent nominations were Best Country Album for Halos and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Dagger Through The Heart" from the same album last year, but she didn't win either category. In addition, another project to which Dolly contributed, the tribute album Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, is up for Best Country Album against Faith Hill's Cry, Lyle Lovett's My Baby Don't Tolerate, Willie Nelson and Ray Price's Run That By Me One More Time, Nelson's Live And Kickin' and Twain's Up. However, Dolly doesn't get credit for the nomination since it is listed as just "Various Artists." And although several Dolly guest appearances were submitted for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, none of those songs received nominations. Ricky Skaggs snagged the most nominations with five, but there were several other multiple-nominated artists, including Willie Nelson and the late Johnny Cash. The other country categories, and non-country categories featuring country artists, are as follows:

  • Best Traditional Folk Album: Wildwood Flower, June Carter Cash; Any Old Time, Steve Forbert; Bon Reve, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys; The Three Pickers, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs; Seeds: The Songs Of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3, Pete Seeger and Friends.
  • Best Male Country Vocal Performance: "Annabelle," Ray Benson; "Next Big Thing," Vince Gill; "My Baby Don't Tolerate," Lyle Lovett; "She's My Kind Of Rain," Tim McGraw; "Brokenheartsville," Joe Nichols; "Three Wooden Crosses," Randy Travis.
  • Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: "Red Dirt Road," Brooks and Dunn; " I Believe," Diamond Rio; "My Front Porch Looking In," Lonestar; "Colors," The Oak Ridge Boys; "A Simple Life," Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
  • Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: "Temptation," June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash; "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," lan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett; "urlitzer Prize (I Don't Want To Get Over You)," Willie Nelson & Norah Jones; "Beer For My Horses," Willie Nelson and Toby Keith; "How's The World Treating You," James Taylor & Alison Krauss.
  • Best Country Instrumental Performance: "Ain't Chet Yet," Ray Benson; "Cluck Old Hen," Alison Krauss and Union Station; "Spaghetti Western Swing," Brad Paisley Featuring Redd Volkaert; "Pick Along," Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson & Ricky Skaggs; "Get Up John," Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
  • Best Country Song: "Beer For My Horses," Scotty Emerick & Toby Keith; "Celebrity," Brad Paisley; "Forever And For Always," Robert John "Mutt" Lange & Shania Twain; "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," Jim "Moose" Brown & Don Rollins; "Wave On Wave," Pat Green, David Neuhauser & Justin Pollard.
  • Best Bluegrass Album: Live, Alison Krauss & Union Station; "It's Just The Night, The Del McCoury Band; Live At The Charleston Music Hall, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder; Christmas On The Mountain - A Bluegrass Christmas, Various Artists; One Step Ahead, Rhonda Vincent.
  • Best Contemporary Folk Album: Rules Of Travel, Rosanne Cash; Stumble Into Grace, Emmylou Harris; Looking For The Moon, Tom Paxton; World Without Tears, Lucinda Williams; The Wind, Warren Zevon.
  • Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album: Wondrous Love, Blue Highway; The Walk, The Crabb Family; A Cappella, Gaither Vocal Band; Always Hear The Harmony: The Gospel Sessions, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, The Jordanaires & The Light Crust Doughboys; Rise And Shine, Randy Travis.
  • Best Short Form Music Video: "Hurt," Johnny Cash; "The Scientist," Coldplay; "Die Another Day," Madonna; "Concrete Angel," Martina McBride; "Hey Ya!," Outkast.

    Lifetime Achievement Honor Given To Dolly
    And the Grammy Awards weren't the only ones lauding Dolly, the editors of Country Weekly announced on Wednesday that it has bestowed upon her the Career Achievement Award in its 2003 Fan Favorite Awards. The category honors one in the genre for at least 15 years and "whose songs and performances have made a lasting contribution to the tradition and heritage of country music." The award is chosen by its editors based on nominees selected by fans who cast ballots in the first round of voting. In announcing the honor, the publication's editorial director, Neil Pond, said: "Dolly has made an indelible mark on our culture as a dazzling performer, magnificent songwriter, versatile actor, astute businesswoman and exemplary citizen. And, no matter what she wears, or what role she plays, she's never anything less than 100 percent Dolly. We're honored to present her with this award to recognize the depth and reach of her influence." Other winners were Alan Jackson for Favorite Artist, Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Collaboration for "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" with Jimmy Buffett; Toby Keith for Favorite Album with Unleashed and Favorite Video for "Beer For My Horses" with Willie Nelson; Martina McBride for Favorite Female Artist, Daryl Worley for Favorite Song with "Have You Forgotten," Alabama for Favorite Group and Brooks & Dunn for Favorite Duo. The honorees will be profiled in the magazine's 2003 Yearbook issue, due on newsstands next week. Read a story about the awards from the Topeka Capital-Journal here.

    Canadian Update
    The Dolly tribute collection gains five spots to No. 18 country in its seventh chart week in Canada, it was announced Thursday. And Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas, inches up another two places to No. 7 country in its fifth chart week this year.

    Dec. 4:
    Dolly Without Her Wig?
    In an Associated Press interview to promote her new book, American Music, famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz told of how she wanted to shoot Dolly for the project sans the wig. Although Leibovitz convinced Dolly to meet with her in her natural hair, Dolly still put on a wig for the photograph included in the collection in stores now and on display through Jan. 19 at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Read the interview, and Leibovitz's story on the photo, here.

    No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
    The lawsuit which forced Dollywood to cease its practice of free admission for the disabled got a slam in Wednesday's Florida Times-Union, with an editorial saying the park had little choice in the decision and that those who brought the suit "perverted" the Americans With Disabilities Act. Read the piece here.

    Give A Special Gift
    An article on Bankrate Wednesday offered interesting gift ideas for the fans of celebrities: support their charities with a gift in the name of a friend or loved one who adores the famous person associated with the cause. As an example, they suggested making donations to the Dollywood Foundation for friends who are country music fans. Read the story here.

    Dolly Gets Some Ink
    Dolly gets a few mentions in the December issue of U.S. Gospel News, I'm told. Welk Music Group has a full-page ad for her new patriotic and spiritual collection, For God And Country, and the issue features a review of the CD courtesy Dolly Parton Central and a review from the magazine itself thanking Dolly for paying tribute to her country. Thanks!

    Dec. 3:
    In Memoriam
    Robert Henry Owens, Dolly's uncle and one of her early musical influences, died Friday in Sevierville, Tenn. He was 72. In the 1950s, he was stationed in the military in Lake Charles, La., and lived next door to the Goldband Records studio. Becoming friends with the owner, he got Dolly to visit in 1957 when she was 11 to record her first record, "Puppy Love"/"Girl Left Alone," and on the way back bought the first bananas she had ever eaten. He recorded under the stage name John Henry III and even put out a single with a young Dolly singing harmony, "Mathilda (I Cry and Cry For You)." Services were held Tuesday at Atchley Funeral Home with interment in Caton's Chapel Cemetery. He was the brother of Dolly's mother, Avie Lee Parton, and is survived by three sons, one daughter, nine grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, two sisters, three brothers and a host of nieces and nephews. The family is in our prayers. Thanks, Maryellen.

    Dolly In GAC Program
    Dolly was the featured artist on a new episode of cable network Great American Country's Country Music Across America show taped at the Country Music Hall of Fame. She was scheduled to discuss American patriotism, her new patriotic and spiritual CD For God And Country and the tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton. If you're reading this report early Tuesday evening, you can still catch the show's premiere at 10 p.m. Eastern. It is scheduled to repeat throughout the next two weeks (see TV listings at right).

    Holiday Wishes
    CMT.com's daily poll Tuesday was which artists would fans most like to see mount a holiday-themed tour. As of early Tuesday evening, Alan Jackson led with 54 percent, followed by Martina McBride at 21 percent, Kenny & Dolly at 11 percent, Vince Gill at 8 percent and "don't know" at 6 percent. Vote here.

    Dec. 2:
    Steady In Americana
    The tribute CD Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton remains steady at No. 3 on the weekly Americana Music Association countdown with 729 spins at radio during the previous week, it was announced Monday, up from 724 spins the week before. Livin', Lovin', Losin': Songs Of The Louvin Brothers, featuring Dolly and Sonya Isaacs on "The Angels Rejoiced," also remains steady at No. 13 with 455 spins.

    Dec. 1:
    Aussie Update
    Just Because I'm A Woman: Songs Of Dolly Parton inches down one spot to No. 8 on the Australian country album chart in its seventh chart week Down Under, it was announced Sunday. The set had previously peaked at No. 6.

    Photo Exhibit Hits NY
    The photography exhibit of Henry Horenstein's photos of country music legends, including Dolly, had arrived in New York. To see Dolly's shot, taken in Boston in 1972, visit the Sarah Morthland Gallery on West 25th Street through Dec. 20 for an in-person view, or click here to see it online. All of the photos are available in Horenstein's book, Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music 1972-1981, available here. Read a story here.