Gospel Fest 2010 Opening: A Dolly Day

By Harrell Gabehart for Dollymania.net

For the first time ever at Dollywood, the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the Singing News Fan Awards were presented on Wednesday September 29, 2010, which also marked the start of Dollywood's National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration festivities. The highlight of the day was be the pride of Sevier County, Dolly Parton, receiving the James D Vaughn Impact Award. Vaughn is considered the father of Southern gospel music and is credited with establishing the first professional traveling gospel quartet. This award honors those who have made a significant contribution to Southern gospel music.

For those unable to attend the actual awards ceremony, there was an event in front of the Chasing Rainbows Museum that everyone could see and hear Ms Parton accept her award. The event started out with the introduction of Charlie Waller, Director of the Southern Gospel Music Association. He started by telling the history of Southern gospel music and how gospel music has always been at Dollywood for 25 years. The Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame was established inside Dollywood in 1999.

“Had it not been for Dolly, there would not have been a Dollywood,” Waller said. “Had it not been for Dollywood, there wouldn't be a Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.”

Waller introduced Dolly Parton as the receipient of the James D Vaughn Impact Award and in her usual style and effervescent personality, Dolly took the stage in a fabulous olive green outfit with black lace overlay and black lace fingerless gloves.

Parton thanked Waller for the award and said that she was honored to be receiving this. “I have written many gospel songs through the years and you can really see God in all of my work. It's all a part of me”. Parton remembered her fond memories of her grand father, Jake Owens, who was a Pentecostal minister and how she used to sing in church all of the time. Shortly after Dolly fielded a few media questions, she introduced the Kindgom Heirs, who regularly perform at Dollywood, to help her sing a song that she wrote many years ago, “I Am A Seeker” which also concluded this awards ceremony.

Ms Parton and other SGMA inductees and Singing Fan Award nominees also walked the red carpet from the SGMA Hall of Fame museum to the DP Celebrity Theater later that afternoon to start off the SGMA and Singing News Fan Awards Ceremony. As you would of thought, Ms Parton brought up the rear of the parade in her car. She was also spotted outside of the Heartsong Theater after the ceremony where she was meeting with VIPS from the Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library. It was a day filled with Dolly and the best in Southern Gospel Music and I was glad to be a part of it.

See more photos here.