Dolly Parton to Receive “Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award” at CMAs

Dolly Parton smiling for a photo.

2016 has been a huge year for Dolly Parton! Her new Pure & Simple album debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart, she launched her largest tour in decades, and she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with husband Carl Dean. As the year draws to a close, Dolly’s world domination continues. It was recently announced that the country star would be honored with the “Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 50th Annual CMA Awards in November. Visit My Smokies has all the details on Dolly’s latest achievement.

The Lifetime Achievement AwardSevierville's famous statue of Dolly Parton.

According to the CMA, the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award is meant to recognize “an artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in Country Music…an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales, and public representation at the highest level”.

Here at Visit My Smokies, we can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Dolly! As a Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Parton finds herself in the company of other country music legends, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Johnny Cash.

When the news broke on October 4 that Dolly would receive the award, Parton was appearing on the late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. As they discussed the honor, Kimmel quipped, “I feel like Willie Nelson just as easily could be getting the Dolly Parton Lifetime Achievement Award.” We certainly don’t disagree!

The CMA Awards will air live on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Dolly Parton waving from a float in her parade in Pigeon Forge.Willie and Dolly

In her interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Dolly mentioned that she has known Willie Nelson since 1964, when they were both starting their careers in Nashville. Dolly told Kimmel that she used to write songs with Willie before he grew his iconic beard and long braided hair, joking that “he looked like a schoolteacher”. Nelson and Parton dueted on the song “From Here to the Moon and Back”, which appears on Nelson’s 2013 album To All the Girls….

Willie and Dolly also both contributed to the new song “Forever Country,” a special collaboration between thirty of country’s biggest artists. Featuring Carrie Underwood, Ronnie Milsap, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, and dozens of other performers, the song is a medley of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”, and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. You can watch the impressive music video for Forever Country here:

Dolly Parton’s Greatest Honor: Her Statue in Sevierville

While the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award is certainly a great honor, the recognition that means the most to Dolly may be her iconic statue in Sevierville. Located in front of the Sevier County Courthouse, this life-size bronze statue was paid for in part by money raised by local children.

During her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Dolly shared a heartwarming story about her late father and the statue:

“My Dad was just a real country person: always drove a pickup truck, had a rifle in the back, and always had a tag that said ‘Dolly Parton for President’…After my Dad died, one of my brothers told me that Daddy used to put a big bucket, a big oil drum of soapy water, and a broom in the back of his truck, and late at night, he’d go down to the statue and scrub all the pigeon poop off that. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?.. It touched me. I cried my eyes out.”

You can hear Dolly tell the story herself in this clip from the show:

To learn more about visiting the Dolly Parton statue and all of the other things to see nearby, check out our guide to downtown Sevierville!

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