Her father couldn’t read but still supported her and her family. She stays humble and annually donates millions of dollars. Even though she has amassed massive fame and fortune, Dolly Parton has remained humble amid her stellar career as a musician, businesswoman, and philanthropist. It’s no surprise that success has followed her along the way. As someone who grew up in a large family, Parton understands the struggles of poverty. She is now a highly-influential Hollywood star, and despite her accomplishments, she has never forgotten her humble beginnings.The music superstar, whose real name is Dolly Rebecca Parton, was welcomed by her parents on January 19, 1946, in Sevierville, Tennessee, on Locust Ridge. She was born in a one-bedroom cabin and had 11 siblings.
Robert Lee Parton, her father, was a sharecropper who couldn’t read or write due to a lack of access to education, and he supplemented his income by working in construction.
Growing up, the country legend, raised by a musically-oriented family, was constantly surrounded by music. Despite their difficult living circumstances, they found joy and connected through singing.
Parton’s mother, Avie Lee Owens, a performer, taught her daughter how to sing. She played different music for her, like church songs and Elizabethan ballads that had been in her family for generations.
Meanwhile, Parton’s grandfather, Jake Robert Owens, was a minister and the composer of the hymn “Singing His Praise.” Several of Parton’s siblings became interested in music, and some worked in her family band.
Parton also had an uncle named Sam Owens, a musician and singer-songwriter in his own right. Her uncle loved music and was the first person to notice that she had the potential to become a famous musician when she was a child.
Parton’s siblings include Stella Mae, Cassie Nan, twins Freida Estelle and Rachel Ann, Willadeene, David Wilburn, Coy Denver, Bobby Lee, Robert, and Larry. Robert died in 2021 after a battle with cancer, while Larry died as a newborn.
As the fourth among 12 siblings, Parton frequently helped her parents care for the younger children. She lived with her family under one little roof.At the time, their log cabin only had one bedroom and one living room, and there was no running water or electricity. The property still stands to this day.
Parton has always been open about discussing her humble beginnings or how this influenced her views on life. She came from a large family with limited resources, so she is familiar with the challenges of being poor.
In an interview with The Guardian in 2016, Parton reminisced about her childhood in the mountains of rural Tennessee, focusing on the early memories that brought her the most joy. She said:
“Of course, not everything was perfect, but I prefer to remember the best of times.”
She remembered the days spent with her siblings, singing at church, and completing chores she wasn’t particularly fond of. She also reminisced about the tons of laughter she shared with her family.
Parton shared how her brothers and sisters would constantly sing and she would always try to get them to be her backup singers when she tried to pretend to be the lead singer on stage, but they were completely disinterested.
Their little house, Parton recalled, was always packed with her siblings, leading to a lot of teasing and bickering. However, despite the chaos, they always stuck together as a family.
She added that they spent most of the time outside because the cabin was too small for them to hang out comfortably. The space outside served as an extension for sharing meals, entertainment, and playing games.