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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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With vibrant rock ’n’ roll, Parton expresses herself in album

Country music legend Dolly Parton released her 49th album “Rockstar” Nov. 17. Aside from her music endeavors, Ms. Parton has been very vocal in recent politics.

In early 2022, Dolly Parton, known for her now-classic storytelling and country sound, received a nomination. After over six decades in the music industry, Ms. Parton is no stranger to receiving accolades for her work and influence. Initially, Ms. Parton declined the nomination, saying she did not see herself as an influential figure in that genre. 

That was the moment her album “Rockstar” was born — challenging Ms. Parton to dive into the world of rock and roll. 

In her 49th album, “Rockstar,” released Nov. 17, Ms. Parton goes beyond her roots, morphing her classic country and pop sound into vibrant-yet-assertive rock alongside a range of well-known featured artists. Her transition across genres exemplifies her versatility as an artist and her influence as a national idol.

Since the start of her career, Ms. Parton has established herself as a pillar of American pop culture, earning recognition for her storytelling, charm and sheer talent. The album is comprised of 9 original tracks and 21 cover songs, which provide a Dolly Parton and rock twist on classic songs. The range in featured artists is striking — from Miley Cyrus to Paul McCartney — yet Dolly’s voice, a vibrant soprano laced with her smooth country accent, accompanied by hints of electric guitar tie everything together.  

One of the most successful tracks, the original song “World on Fire,” takes Dolly’s music one step further into the world of politics, a topic Ms. Parton has famously tried to stay away from. She sings, “Don’t get me started on politics./ Now how are we to live in a world like this?/ Greedy politicians, present and past,/ they wouldn’t know the truth if it bit ’em in the a–.” 

Ms. Parton did not specify her political affiliation, but instead outlined authentic sentiments that speak to her enduring influence and adoration.

Still, over the years, Ms. Parton’s immense influence has branched beyond music in various ways, contrasting country music’s growing conservative reputation. In 1995, Ms. Parton founded the Imagination Library, which gifts a child a book every month. Now, more than 2 million books are sent to children worldwide each month. She has expressed vocal support for people in the LGBTQ community. In Southern states, the place where her typical country genre thrives, Ms. Parton has spoken up for issues including a North Carolina bill to ban transgender people from using the bathroom that does not correlate to their gender assigned at birth. 

In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Parton, who lives outside of Nashville, donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with Moderna to create one of the first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved in the United States at a time when many country music artists did not support mask mandates.

Dolly Parton is constantly evolving. Still, her charm and authenticity remains. Now she continues to express herself — with a vibrant splash of rock ‘n’ roll.

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About the Contributor
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing

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    BrianNov 28, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    wow what a great article mia