In Memory: Meet Avie Lee Parton, Dolly Parton's Super Mom Behind Stardom


Arden Lambert


June 25, 2021


June 25, 2021


June 25, 2021

A mother plays a great influence in anyone. That is also true for Dolly Parton because she was instrumental in inspiring her to be a musician as a child. Meet Avie Lee Parton.

Avie Lee hails from South Carolina married to Robert Lee Parton in 1939, and raised 12 children, six boys and six girls (Willadeene, David, Coy, Dolly, Bobby, Stella, Cassie, Randel, Larry, Estel, Freida, and Rachel) in Sevier County, Tennessee.

RELATED: Meet Dolly Parton’s Parents, Their Influences and Humble Beginnings

Given the fact that she had to raise 12 children, she had to be extremely strong and resourceful. She took good care of her family from preparing food, cared for them when they’re sick and of course their emotional needs.

She passed away in 2003 at the age of 80. Dolly Parton immortalized that love with her song “Coat of Many Colors” and her first-ever childhood song “Little Tiny Tasseltop.” Both songs talk about Avie Lee’s handmade gifts.

“Coat of Many Colors” tells the story of Avie Lee sewing her young daughter a winter coat out of small scraps of fabric when the family could afford little else. However, her gift was more than just the coat. This lesson would become Dolly’s life philosophy. “Coat of Many Colors” may be the most famous story of Avie Lee’s handmade gifts, however, it was not the first. In fact, the first song Dolly ever wrote was inspired by another of her mother’s gifts.

RELATED: Meet Dolly Parton Siblings Inside Their Big Family Filled With Passion For Music

“Little Tiny Tasseltop” was composed by a young Dolly even before she could read or write. The song was inspired by a corncob doll, with corn silk hair, that Avie Lee handcrafted for little Dolly. As she played with her precious doll on the front porch, she began singing. Avie Lee quickly wrote down the lyrics to what would become Dolly’s very first song.

More than she realized, these simple gifts gave Dolly a very important lesson of appreciating and valuing the littlest of blessings received. In her book, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business,” Parton recalls what happened after “Coat of Many Colors” made her a major success:

“After the song had become a hit and had done so much for my career, I wanted to go back home and repay Mama for all the love she had sewn into my coat. I said, ‘Mama, let’s go to Knoxville. I’m going to buy you a mink coat.’ Mama is the type of person who is somewhat uncomfortable about somebody making her an offer like that. At first, she came back with a joke: ‘It’s bad enough we have to eat little varmints…I don’t want to have to start wearing them…’ Then she took on a more serious tone as she said, ‘Shoot! Where would I wear a mink coat…to a pie supper? Give me the money instead.’ So I did.”

That’s the love of a mother and I think nothing in this world can ever reciprocate it.




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