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What Did Dolly Parton Say in Highschool That Made The Whole Class Burst Into Laughter?

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The Queen of Country Music has built a career in entertainment like no other. Ever since Dolly Parton released her debut album – Hello, I’m Dolly – over fifty years ago, she made history by changing the face of the entertainment industry, as she helped kick down countless doors for female performers in both country and pop music.

Of course, she got one of the strongest song catalogs for any female singer-songwriter in any genre – some of the best hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Not only that, but Parton has also conquered the worlds of books, television, movies, and just pretty much anything she wants to do.

Indeed, dreams do come true for Dolly Parton!

But There Were Some Who Once Laughed At Parton’s Dreams

Dolly Parton was born in small-town Sevierville, Tennessee, and grew up poor as one of twelve children. But despite her family’s situation, making both ends meet, Parton had such big dreams, and she wasn’t shy about sharing them.

When Parton graduated from Sevier County High School in East Tennessee in 1964, the entire class had the chance to share their aspirations.

“All the graduates had been asked to stand up and talk about what we were going to do with the rest of our lives,” the music icon recalled. “Some said they were going to get married. Others said they were going to take a job in Knoxville.”

When it was her turn, Parton did not hold back on revealing her ambitions.

“I stood up and said, ‘I’m going to Nashville, and I’m going to be a star,'” Parton continued. “Well, the whole place laughed out loud. I was so embarrassed. Why is everybody laughing? I thought. This is exactly what I want to do. I felt they were being really cruel.”

Despite the hurtful incident, Parton did not let anything or anyone stand in the way of her dreams.

“As bad as I felt and as embarrassed as I was, that moment did not shake me from my dreams,” she emphasized. “I knew what I needed to do to make my dream come true.”

Decades Later, She Looked Back To That Hurtful Incident

Parton recounted that high-school scene over four decades later when she spoke to the 2009 graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences from the University of Tennessee. As the queen of country music prepared to receive an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters, she told the entire class how she went on to prove her classmates wrong.

“The passing of the years gives you a clearer perspective, so now I really don’t think the people were laughing to be cruel or making fun of me. They were just not used to someone dreaming that big or being that sure about it. I always believe that people with big dreams don’t often announce them because if they fail, the whole world knows,” she reflected.

“Of course, you have to be careful. Do not confuse dreams with wishes. Dreams are where you visualize yourself being successful at what it’s important for you to accomplish. Wishes are hoping good things will happen to you, but there’s no fire in your gut that causes you to put everything forth to overcome all the obstacles.” Parton said as she urged graduates to dream.

“You have to dream more, and never, ever, ever blame somebody else if it doesn’t happen. That is in your department.” 

That popular commencement speech provides the basis of her book, Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, published in 2012. In the book, she shared the “nuggets of wisdom” that took her from rags to riches and led to massive success as a musician, actress, and theme-park entrepreneur.

She Will Always Be An Inspiration

Recently, Parton once again offered some of her trademark wisdom to the Class of 2020 as she shared a few words during the virtual commencement for graduating seniors in Sevier County, Tennessee.

She appeared in a pre-taped video message that aired at the end of Sevier County High School’s celebration video. After offering her congratulations, the country icon also used her remarkable success as inspiration for her listeners, motivating them to go out and chase their dreams.

“I just wanted to wish you the best in life going out there in the big world and just know that dreams do come true,” Parton said. “Hopefully, I’m a good example of that, so you get out there and make your dreams come true.”

Dolly Parton recently released her latest album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, last October 2. She will also star in the Netflix movie musical called Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, which will premiere on November 22.

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