In describing Dolly Parton, songwriter-producer Linda Perry likened her to the sun: “She will shine on every part of your body and lift you up.”
A lively Parton shared that warmth with an intimate crowd at the Grammy Museum — and a larger audience watching the livestream online — during a “town hall” discussion at the venue Monday night in Los Angeles. The event kicked off “Diamond In a Rhinestone World: The Costumes Of Dolly Parton,” an exhibit of the country legend’s memorable wardrobe, which opens to the public on Tuesday and runs through March 17.
Parton is in town ahead of Friday’s 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year benefit and gala. The star-studded list of performers set to pay homage to the Country Music and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee includes Garth Brooks, Miley Cyrus, Vince Gill, Kacey Musgraves, Don Henley, Katy Perry, Pink, Chris Stapleton, and Mavis Staples.
Having recently collaborated on six songs for the soundtrack to Parton’s Netflix film Dumplin’, Perry was a timely, and enthusiastic, host. In a wide-ranging chat, live-streamed on Billboard‘s Facebook page, the 73 year-old singer-songwriter-actress-author-philanthropist discussed several facets of her career including the wardrobe on display at the Grammy Museum, her upcoming Netflix series Heartstrings, and the still-gestating sequel to 9 to 5. Here are four things we learned.
There will also be a tribute to Parton at the Grammy Awards on Sunday
Perry, who is nominated for Producer of the Year at this year’s awards, revealed that, in addition to the MusiCares honor — where she and Parton will perform the enduring story song “Coat of Many Colors” — the former 4 Non Blondes frontwoman would be leading an all-star cast of performers in a tribute. The group will include Musgraves, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, and Katy Perry, and tackle some of Parton’s signature numbers including “Jolene.” Perry admitted that this was causing her quite a bit of stress, saying, “I’ve just got to make this perfect for Dolly… I’ve been freaking out!”
The 9 to 5 sequel continues apace and Parton is excited about the script
Parton explained that the new film will feature a trio of young women working at Consolidated, the corporation from the 1980 original who seek out the characters from the original film played by Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. (The company was overseen, as you’ll remember, by the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” Franklin Hart, memorably played by Dabney Coleman.) She went on to describe the story, being co-written by Rashida Jones and original screenwriter Pat Resnick. She admitted that, while she believes the themes of the original film about equal pay and harassment in the workplace were and remain important, she did it mainly to star alongside Fonda and Tomlin. “I had never been in a movie and I didn’t really know what it was all about and I didn’t really care at that time because I just thought it was great because it was the first time I had been offered a big movie.” She agreed to appear if she could write the theme song– which clearly worked out well — and says she figured “If this is a big a hit, then I’ll be a part of something big but if it is a flop, then it’s gonna be all on them and I can just go back to my singing!”
Designing Women Alert! Several familiar faces will pop up in her upcoming Netflix show Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings
The anthology series based on Parton’s songs, due out later this year, has already announced a few of its stars, including Julianne Hough as the notorious Jolene. But Parton shared a few more names in Monday’s discussion including Delta Burke (Designing Women) and Gerald McRaney (This is Us) in an episode called “If I Had Wings” and Kathleen Turner in “These Old Bones” — “about this old clairvoyant woman back in the Smoky’s that predicted that I was gonna be doing something special in my life.” Parton will introduce each episode and appear in a few of them.
Her costumes are like her children, she doesn’t play favorites
Since Parton was partaking in the town hall discussion as part of the launch of the exhibit, the first in the U.S. to display her costumes outside of Dollywood as a collection, she was asked if there were any particularly meaningful pieces. The exhibit features everything from her earliest, simplest country girl wear to her gaudiest (her words) stage attire, as well as costumes from films like Steel Magnolias, 9 to 5, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. “They’re all meaningful,” she said of the outfits. “They’re like kids. Some of them might have done more than the others. Some of them might be prettier than the others but they’re yours and so you love them all the same.”
The 2019 Grammy awards air Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBS.