KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Dolly Parton boasts a 60-plus year career as an entertainer, having dazzled audiences from the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and around the world, but she always comes home.
WATE 6 On Your Side has been covering the news and serving the people of East Tennessee for more than 60 years, having been Knoxville’s first television news station.
Our relationship with Dolly Parton is special and we’re honored to have met her and covered her stories as well as Dollywood events through the years.
A lucky few of our WATE 6 News anchors has a story or two of shared memories with Dolly and how she impacted them.
In honor of Dolly Week, we’re sharing those memories:
I had the pleasure of working on a documentary with Dolly when they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Dollywood back in 2010. With this documentary, I had two one-on-one interviews as well as a walk-through of the Chasing Rainbows Museum with her at that time – it was a really special moment of my career.
During one of the interviews, she did what she always does, she makes you feel special; complementing my necklace, which I of course offered to her, and we took a picture together and she had it printed and mailed to me.
Even now, she has this incredible way of making everyone feel special – including my own daughter during a recent special interview. She looked at her, called her up on stage and sat down and talked with her like no one else was in the room. It was an incredibly special moment that neither I nor my daughter will ever forget.
I have been in East Tennessee for many years but this year was my first to meeting Dolly.
I have always been enamored by her. She has such a big, bold yet warm presence.
This summer, as luck would have it, she was at Dollywood on a day I was at the park with my family. Of course, you never feel dressed up enough to meet the Queen of Country Music but when opportunity knocks — you open the door.
She is such a petite woman yet she commands the room. We said our pleasantries and I tried so hard not to turn into the fan that can’t speak a straight sentence. I’ve met a lot of celebrities over the years in this wonderful business but she takes the cake. She’s genuine. She is everything she presents herself to be and more.
When we posed for this picture she said, “Well, aren’t you precious!” and squeezed my waist. Nothing will top that moment.
One of my favorite Dolly quotes is, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” That’s one to live by!
I recall meeting Dolly for one of my first live interviews when I started at WATE 6 News in 1993.
Dollywood’s then-newest expansion, The Country Fair, had just opened and she agreed to an interview with me. She is a true superstar and I knew I was in the presence of a Country Great.
My favorite moment with Dolly – captured in a photo, is from the telethon Dolly hosted in Nashville to raise funds for victims of the November 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires.
As you can see, Dolly makes you feel as though you’re the only person in the room – giving you that welcoming smile!
I met Dolly Parton after Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas received the Golden Ticket Award in late 2018. This was shortly after she announced the massive Wildwood Grove expansion coming to Dollywood. It was also a year before her Netflix series “Heartstrings” would premiere on Netflix.
You are a bit nervous to interview one of the biggest names in music and television. Within a few minutes of talking, Dolly somehow makes you feel like you’re sitting down with a neighbor.
I remember saying “Dolly, it doesn’t get any bigger than this for a reporter in East Tennessee.”
She thanked me and then asked where I’m from, how I liked living on this end of the state, etc. I’m thinking to myself: “YOU’RE DOLLY PARTON. WHO CARES WHERE I’M FROM?”
Well, she did.
She likes people. She’s genuine. She’s smart. And, above all, she is kind. These are some of the reasons why she has such a loyal fan base. It’s also why that base grows every day.
More recently, at the first public showing of her new Netflix series at Dollywood, I watched Dolly sit in the crowd, with everyone else, to watch the first couple episodes of the series. That, my friends, is the epitome of down to earth.
MORE DOLLY | See more stories about Dolly Parton in our special page, All About Dolly Parton – here