Dolly Parton USA Today
Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Dolly Parton Celebrated as One of USA Today's Women of the Century


To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women in America the right to vote, USA Today has ranked its Women of the Century.

Its state-by-state celebration includes a short list of Tennessee luminaries, including longtime University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, Justice Martha Craig Daughtrey, NASA astronaut Margaret Rhea Seddon and country music legend Dolly Parton.

Beyond being the singer-songwriter behind such obvious hits as "Jolene and "I Will Always Love You," Parton's the namesake of East Tennessee theme park Dollywood and the philanthropist responsible for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which provides children with free books. Those are just two examples of Parton's substantial impact on the lives of her neighbors.

In a lengthy interview with USA Today, Parton speculates about why she remains a pop culture icon.


"I think that one of the things is because I love people, and I think they feel that, they sense that," she explains. "I've been around a long time, and I grew up with humble beginnings. I think that people know that I've worked hard to get where I'm at and that I've stayed sane, for the most part."

Parton's not the only country music star on the list. USA Today's other honorees with ties to Nashville include Loretta Lynn (Kentucky), June Carter (Virginia), Reba McEntire (Oklahoma), Sheryl Crow (Missouri), Linda Ronstadt (Arizona) and Taylor Swift (Pennsylvania).

Music icons on the list aside from Parton's fellow country singers include three-time Grammy award-winner Gloria Estefan, gospel legend Shirley Caesar and two Texas artists, Beyonce and Selena.

Read More: Dolly Parton's Holiday Album 'A Holly Dolly Christmas' to Feature Miley Cyrus + Other Guests


Never one to shy away from sharing her mind, Parton grabbed headlines in August with her response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen," the living legend told Billboard, in response to the protests that have continued since George Floyd's murder at the hands of police. "And of course, Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!"

Parton doesn't always speak out on political issues. In part because as someone known for bringing people together, she gets frustrated by partisan politics from both sides of the aisle.

"I don't care if that's Bush or Clinton or Obama or Trump or Biden or whoever it may be," she told USA Today. "They need to think more about the people instead of about the party."


For the entire list of USA Today's Women of the Century selections, visit the news outlet's website (

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