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Dollytics? Parton takes on rock, issues of the day

Dolly Parton has decided to step out of her creative comfort zone.

While music has always been something that the country singer has been known for, recently she has been using her voice for a different reason. Parton, over the past few years, has stepped into the turbulent politics and societal issues of the day.

In a recent interview, the entertainer/philanthropist said of politicians, “I think often that they worry more about the party than they do about the people.”

However, unlike many entertainers who seem to thrive on creating controversy or companies that are boycotted because of their political stance, Parton has found a way to talk about contemporary issues without alienating fans from both sides of the political spectrum.

“She has been able to accomplish this because of her decades of on-message branding as ‘Dolly Parton,'” said Dr. Lance Kinney, associate professor of advertising and public relations in the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. “Everyone knows the ‘Dolly Parton’ persona is her professional persona. She makes it clear that she knows it, and fans feel like they are in on the joke with her.”

In his APR 423 course at Alabama, Kinney discusses Parton as a crisis manager in “Dolly Parton: Crisis Communication CEO.”

“It may be a natural disaster, a financial scandal who knows what it will be workplace violence, for example, you’re going to need a Dolly Parton, so the question that I always leave with the professional organizations is who will be your Dolly Parton,” he said. “And if I can get my students to move from class and move into their professions, as they start these kinds of activities, if they’re always thinking, who will be our Dolly Parton, they will be ready.”

Musically, Parton latest is an album of rock songs with rock stars. It’s appropriately named “Rockstar.”

One particular single on the album is called “World on Fire.” It speaks to the chaotic times and division that people across the country are facing.

Its lyrics include “How do we heal this great divide? Do we care enough to try?” and “Greedy politicians, present and past. They wouldn’t know the truth if it bit ‘em in the ass.”

Parton discussed the inspiration for the new single.

“This is a song I felt very inspired to write,” Parton said. “I think it speaks about everything and to everyone at this day and time. I hope it is something that will touch you and maybe touch enough people to want to make a change for the better.”

While for some artists, stepping out politically can prove to be polarizing, Kinney said Parton’s sincerity helps close that divide.

“Mostly, though, I think the public perceives Dolly Parton as leading from and speaking from her heart,” he said. “She’s perceived as a kind, authentic person who invests her credibility and money in non-partisan causes that serve the greater public without judging those who benefit from her efforts or ridiculing how they came to need the help.”

For more information on Parton’s new album, which will be released Nov. 17, visit https://dollyparton.com/life-and-career/music/dolly-partons-first-ever-rock-album-rockstar-set-for-global-release-november-17/21454

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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