Dolly Parton
Citizen Tribune
March 26, 1999
Gospel Special Full Of Dolly Parton's Precious Memories

      Gospel Music is worship with a melody.  It can unify and ignite people to glory with voices raised in song, or calm a troubled heart with phrases gently whispered.  Gospel Music has soul.  And in the hands of one of country's premiere vocalists — Dolly Parton — it soars.
      Parton lifts hearts, hands and spirits in a one-hour special "Dolly Parton's Precious Memories," telecast on TNN Thursday, April 1st at 8 p.m.
      "Gospel was an important part of life in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee where I grew up and religion was a part of everyday life," Parton says in the show.  "We were brought up in a church where if somebody wanted to get up and sing or shout, they did.  There was a feeling of freedom, and through that feeling, I came to know god."
      Parton's grandfather was an "old time preacher man" who taught the Word at the House of Prayer church.  Parton grew up singing in churches with her siblings and two of them, Randy and Rachel, appear on the show to talk about their childhood and perform with their group, Honey Creek, popular performers at Dollywood, Parton's theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
      Other guests include Alison Krauss and The Cox Family, who collaborated on a grammy award winning album for Best Southern Gospel Bluegrass Recording in 1996, and the Kingdom Heirs with Kirk Talley, who are regular performers at Dollywood.
      The song selection is a heavenly mix of traditional gospel standards, "When The Role Is Called Up Yonder" and "In The Sweet By And By," and Parton originals "Coat Of Many Colors" and "The Seeker."  Through the songs the connection between gospel and country music is evident.
      "This music is first and foremost about friends and loved ones sharing something very special," Parton says.  "Families and groups of people come together, united by a common bond, a belief, a hope.  It's no accident that our greatest performers grew up in this environment."
      To preserve the history and heritage of gospel singing, Parton will open the new Southern Gospel Hall of Fame and Museum during Grand Opening Festivities at Dollywood April 16-18.