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Born in 1946, one of twelve children with very limited means, music legend Dolly Parton was delivered in Locust Ridge, Tennessee by a doctor who arrived on horseback and left with a sack of homegrown cornmeal as compensation. As a child she sang every week on local radio, before leaving for Nashville the day after she finished at Sevier County High School. Her first success, duetting with Porter Wagoner, came to an end in the early Seventies, but she scored a major country hit in 1973 with Jolene. She then crossed over to a poppier sound, and, with her charismatic presence, was a natural in Hollywood films including 9 to 5 (the beat for whose theme song she came up with by tapping on her fingernails) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Always a strong-minded and inspirational figure, Dolly has sold more than 100 million records, written more than three thousand songs, and been awarded seven Grammys. Dollywood, her “homespun fun” theme park at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd in Pigeon Forge (dollywood.com), blends mountain heritage with roller coasters and the merriment of its celebrity shareholder. One section showcases Appalachian crafts; a museum looks at Dolly herself in entertaining detail; music shows are constantly on the go and the thrill rides offer plenty for adrenaline-junkies and kiddies alike. A water park, Dolly’s Splash Country, is adjacent.

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