January 2, 2010

LKL Exclusive: Ambassador Dolly Parton!

Posted: 01:39 PM ET

NOTE: Watch Dolly Parton tonight on "Larry King Live," at 9pm ET / 6pm PT!

Singer, songwriter, actress, philanthropist and Tennessee native Dolly Parton has been named the official Ambassador of the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

"The Smokies are a part of my DNA," Parton said in accepting the appointment.  "I've always been an ambassador, but I'm particularly honored to become 'official' for this special 75th anniversary."

In this LKL Blog Exclusive, Dolly Parton tells us about her Smokey Mountain memories and her new role.

"My love for the Great Smoky Mountains is easy to explain. I have spent most of my life inspired by them, talking about them and writing songs about them. As long as I can remember, looking up from our little house in Locust Ridge, the mountains towered over my life.

As a child I thought they represented protection to me. As I got older, they became my connection to the wonder of God. Through my life they have represented precious memories of home.

Regardless of where I roamed around the globe, the Great Smoky Mountains travelled with me and kept me grounded. When the Park called and asked me to be their Ambassador for the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I thought it was a natural. I've been the unofficial ambassador for years, singing the praises of God's spectacular beauty all around the world. But I wanted to do more. I wanted to do something special to protect the mountains for generations to come.

I sat back and looked at my mountains from my special retreat not far from the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and put pen to paper. I started writing the music for a new show at Dollywood called "Sha-Kon-O-Hey! Land of Blue Smoke." It was being created to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the park. With me writing the music, hopefully folks everywhere will know what a wonderful treasure the Great Smoky Mountains are.

To create something even bigger I decided to donate the music to the Friends of the Smokies organization for 2009 to generate some income for their Trails Forever program. The mission of the Friends is to protect and preserve the park for the more than 10 million people who visit the park each year. If we could create an endowment to ensure the Friend's work continue, it seemed like the perfect gift back to the park and the mountains that have shaped my life."

– Dolly Parton

If you would like more information or would like to buy a copy of "Sha-Kon-O-Hey!" you can do so at

Filed under: Dolly Parton • Larry King Live

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Brenda Stout   January 2nd, 2010 4:25 pm ET

@LKL– Thank You. Dolly is an inspiration and a women with many talents and a beautiful songwriter and singer. I like her song I Will Always Love You. I heard Michael Jackson wanted to sing that song, but it never happened. Great hit for Dolly & Whitney Houston. Dollywood is an excellent entertainment venue.

Lori - Justice For Michael   January 2nd, 2010 6:08 pm ET

Love you, Miss Dolly!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 7:40 pm ET

Its refreshing to see a celebrity the stature of Dolly Parton that has a genuine love for her local ecological health.

Former President Ronald Reagan compared the Blue Ridge Mountains to smog producing coal power plants and the toxic gases pouring out of the nations automobiles and said, 'they are the same thing'. Such is the crass and callous feeling and approach to the environment found in all Republican lawmakers who view Reagan as their God.

Another refreshing aspect of Dolly Parton's selection as Eco-Ambassador is that she has always been keenly appreciative of the ecology, not some Hollywood turned green wannabe.

Congratulations Ambassador Dolly Parton, tell those Republican lawmakers, 'Hands off the Blue Ridge Mountains with your strip mining corporate laws'.

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Greetings and Happy New Year Larry King!

Why doesn't Kristen Amanpour have her own blog here on CNN? She is a incredible resource for CNN and a very deliberate interviewer of some of the worlds most difficult to interview celebrates.

The CNN SIU (Special Investigations Unit) doesn't appear to be updated enough to even follow Kristen's interview tonight, I wish Amanpour had her own blog!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:04 pm ET

Who would imagine Hammer living in his car and hawking his rap music to anyone that would give him a dime for it, and Tyler Perry living in his car and hawking his talent to anyone that would listen, as having something in common!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:10 pm ET

Kudos for Tyler Perry for being so much more genuine that the faux Bill Crosby show and Crosby's blatant Muslim beliefs being pushed upon the actress and actors involved in his ancient production.

I'm really proud of Tyler Perry for breaking the circle of child abuse which follows generation to generation of heavy handed fathers that beat, spank and physically, mental abuse their children.

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:17 pm ET

Good Evening Larry & CNN staff

I have a lot of respect for Tyler Perry in breaking the cycle of violence. It takes a very strong individual to step out of the 'box' of family tradition!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:23 pm ET

@Dodie, good evening, nice to see you enjoying Larry King tonight.

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:31 pm ET

Tyler Perry has an extraordinarily talent in using humor. Humor is one of the most healing behaviors one can express as it allows people to laugh in spite of their pain, oppression or trauma. I suspect he learned this as a child in dealing with his abusive father. I just love him dressed up as a woman.

Tyler, you make a really cute female! :~)

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:33 pm ET

@ A. Smith, Oregon Always a pleasure seeing you on line. :~) I wanted to thank you for all the information you have placed on CNN. You certainly have been doing your homework! Thanks for so much for all valuable information!

Blessing, Baton Rouge   January 2nd, 2010 10:34 pm ET

Larry, Sir, tell Perry I love his play and to act and would be glad if he would give me the opportunity to audition in any of his plays. I am 20 to turn 21 in four months. It is my dream to act and would consider it an honor and my dream true in 2010 if he would give me the opportunity.

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:37 pm ET

I imagine the Republican lawmakers are stirring up a smear campaign on Ambassador Dolly now, leaning on Big Oil contributions and large strip mining American corporations.

Thanks Dodie, you also do a fine job in helping the CNN viewers read between the lines and offer a fuller view to a relevant News Report.

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:38 pm ET

Dolly certainly deserves being ambassador of the Smokey Mountains. LOL love the boob comment! What a hoot! You go girl!!!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:43 pm ET

Classic Dolly! Great one-liners by Ambassador Dolly, take that Rush Limbaugh!

Brian Ferguson   January 2nd, 2010 10:45 pm ET

once upon a christmas needs to be released on dvd and when is it

Helen Junell   January 2nd, 2010 10:45 pm ET

Dolly Parton is the epitome of class and love of God and country. How could one NOT love Dolly???

Joann of HTown   January 2nd, 2010 10:45 pm ET

I am so grateful for ALL that You do to help others. You are a great Humanitarian, and Your Light shines brightly in both worlds.

Ilene Harlan, West Virginia   January 2nd, 2010 10:46 pm ET

Like Dolly I too came from the Great Smoky Mountains. I live in West Virginia now and have for 51 years but I still and always will call Tennessee my home.
Dolly has always been a great inspiration for me. I have been too Dollywood many times and I love it there. I would encourage everyone to go at least once and I'm sure once they do they will go again!
I still have family in Tennessee and go as often as I can.
Keep singing and writing songs Dolly you are wonderful!

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 10:50 pm ET

Larry, what does Dolly think about music piracy and the massive music file sharing networks?

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:51 pm ET

Being criticized for gaining a couple of pounds can certainly spark the dreaded disease of anorexia nervosa or even worse, Bulimia. Very nice of Dolly to support Jessica. It shows the difficulty and criticism the public places on 'stars'

Amanda   January 2nd, 2010 10:54 pm ET

Dolly, I Love your music and your style, and Most of all I love your big hair. I talk about it all the time and I admire your strong personality.

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 10:56 pm ET

9 to 5 is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. I think I did not stop laughing for the entire movie.

C Vargas   January 2nd, 2010 10:58 pm ET

Hi Dolly,
I really love how you always smile! You must brighten up a room! I teach in a high poverty school, kids loves books and some have none at home...... Do you have a program that provides books for students, i.e. elementary.... Thank you for any time......

Theresa Macklin   January 2nd, 2010 10:59 pm ET

will be attending the Rotary Internatinal Convention in Montreal this summer. Dolly is the keynote speaker for her Kentucy Literacy program. She has done so much for children in the smokey moutains.

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 11:00 pm ET

Lol, indeed that was a great movie (9-5). It even sent shock waves thru corporate America that often mirrors the very worst abuses upon women that are found in that movie.

Dodie   January 2nd, 2010 11:01 pm ET

Thanks Larry for wonderful interviews with Dolly and Tyler

John   January 2nd, 2010 11:01 pm ET

Yes, Dolly you are a politician. Larry asked you if you had laid off anybody because of the current economic situation.

She danced around your question, exactly, like our "politicians" do.

If she laid off on person her answer should be "Yes" – if she didn't lay off anybody than her answer should have been "No". She dodged they question by saying, well, we've put a few things on hold – hogwash, answer the "darn question", Dolly. Don't be a phony like many of you folks are or have become.

Larry, you should have asked her to answer the question -Yes or No!

Kai   January 2nd, 2010 11:02 pm ET

Hey Dolly,

You are a beautiful inspiration and a musical joy! The advice that you gave about Jessica Simpson will help her and so many other women across the country.

A year ago, I was a size 24 and weighed 235 pounds. Yesterday, I turned 30, and came out of a year of reflection and growth. Through this beautiful process, I learned that the pounds and the pain did not define me. Today, I am excited to step out into a new world, with 100 pounds off and the new ME turned on.

Women like you inspire the world. Thank you for everything, Dolly.

~ Kai

A. Smith, Oregon   January 2nd, 2010 11:03 pm ET

Thanks Larry, good interviews with Tyler and questions for Ambassador Dolly.

rolande groulx   January 2nd, 2010 11:04 pm ET

hello dolly

I was lucky to see you tonight at Larry King you are a so good humain being my husband and I follow your carrier we have your records et one of your dvd

I wish you for 2010 health with that you can do many things

I am from Quebec CANADA (the city of Celine Dion)

take care of you and God bless you

(excuse my english I am québecois (french)


rol from Montréal

Geneva Griffin   January 2nd, 2010 11:09 pm ET

Great show tonight, Larry. I never get tired of you or Dolly.

A. Ahmad   January 2nd, 2010 11:13 pm ET

I agree Larry has always great shows.

Julie Rowan   January 3rd, 2010 12:40 am ET

Dolly is such a genuine, loving person who has a great deal of integrity. I am a chaplain in the United States Army. I am actually stationed at the Unites States Military Academy. I would like to make a request for Dolly to find time in her busy schedule to come to Eisenhower Hall and give a concert to our cadets. We have had the gracious opportunity to see one of her male cohorts, Kenny Rogers, who gave a magnificient Christmas Show this past December. I know Miss Dolly may already have her year planned out, but maybe God could do a little miracle for us here at West Point. Blessings, Julie

krystle   January 3rd, 2010 1:46 am ET

i am 23 and had worked hard through this economic crisis if you will, and im making the best in every opportunity; im going to college and i am going to Florida for my internship with disney. Dolly i agree with you that it is rough but we can pull our way through this. i am

Marsha   January 3rd, 2010 1:56 am ET

Hey Dolly, I loved Dollywood,while it was so cold the last week of November last year I wasn't able to enjoy the park with my daughter as we thought we would since most of the park was not able to be opened because of the temps.but just wanted to say it was so beautiful with all the lights, we ended up at the stampeed and that was amazing. I hope some day i may be able to come back there with her and meet and have some fun. I think THe Smokey Mountians are beautiful.
thanks Marsha

Meleah   January 3rd, 2010 2:02 am ET

Dolly, I'm so excited about Sha-Kon-O-Hey. My ancestors were the Cherokee from the Smokey Mountains, so this is very dear to me. I have visited the Smokey Mountains when I was a young girl and have always wanted to go back. I now live in the Ozark Mountains which are also very beautiful. Thank you for all you do.

Yani   January 3rd, 2010 2:03 am ET


Please share some of those basic living skills we learned being poor. Have demonstration gardens at Dollywood. Encourage folk to grow their own... food that is...

Love ya...

Flo   January 3rd, 2010 2:10 am ET

Larry, you had two great people on tonight. Both Tyler and Dolly are genuine people who have come up the hard way. They couldn't have picked a better Ambassador for the Great Smokies. Right on Dolly!
God bless you all

Terrie   January 3rd, 2010 2:25 am ET

Dolly, i have watched you since you were on the porter wagner show.,in my book you are one of the greatest singers of all time. I love the way you present yourself. If i had a chance to see any one in the country music business perform it would you be you. Thank you for all you do it would be a real pleasure to meet you someday. keep singing that Tennessee mountain home music.

Dora Gordon   January 3rd, 2010 4:46 am ET

I have been to the smokies ever since I was 6 yrs old. My parents only afford to go there. It feels like 2nd home and now 53 I took my kids there 3 or 4 times a year and now my 9 grand kids it is always wonderful times their.

Shirley Wheeler   January 3rd, 2010 7:37 am ET

Hello Larry & Dolly,
Two Great American Icons "Miss Dolly & Mr.Larry

Congratulations Miss Ambassador Dolly.
What a treat for us that you never seem to mind giving yourself to all your fans.
Wow how wonerful to see "Two American Icons" who has given so much to so many. ,I have an autograghed copy of Dooly's book "Coat of many Colors" that I recieved as a gift and will chreish always.
I can honestly tell you Dolly Pardon is the only "SUPERSTAR" that seems to have never lost her home grown roots'
Larry & Dolly together
WOW I would love to have been "Backstage" for that.
You are one very special lady and I do hope to meet you soon.
Larry ,
CNN is so lucky to have you on the CNN team and who knows perhaps the next "Larry & Dolly "get together I can be backstage.

Pattty Ergenbright   January 3rd, 2010 11:52 am ET

Dolly Loved seeing you on Larry King. We loved visiting Dollywood, Dollywood splash Country, and the Dixie Stampede last summer with my family. Dolly you are just a very special person and we all love you.

Ted   January 3rd, 2010 2:36 pm ET

A great lady who brought us great pleasure with her songs.

katie   January 3rd, 2010 11:16 pm ET

Dolly, I just wanted to say you were a really big insperation to me. You have a really wonderful personality and you inspire me in many ways. I have been to your concert in Atlanta , Ga! It was amazing:) I want to be a singer and I have been blessed with a good voice and going to find an agent soon! I have written over 13 songs and hoping to end up getting to your 3,000:) Well, Dolly, you are the queen of country and an amazing role model:) Nine to Five the musical is gonna rock:)

pat davis   January 4th, 2010 1:12 am ET

Brenda Stout,

I'm watching Dolly Parton as I'm typing on the Joy Behar show and it is not Michael Jackson that wanted to record I Will Always Love You, she said it was Elvis Presly! But his team wanted to buy the rights to the song and Dolly refused. So Elvis not Michael wanted to record I Will Always Love You.

Gerald Jolly   January 4th, 2010 1:37 pm ET

Dolly, is living proof that an uneducated woman that has the desire and strength to improve herself can.

I have always been a big fan of her, but not only because of her music.

Dolly has touched the lives of many persons through her generosity and kindness that most folks dont even know about.

She is well deserving of this honor.

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