Dolly Parton

7 things that prove Dolly Parton’s got a natural flair for economics

A nationwide literacy campaign, a booming business, 100 million records... Dolly's economics has been on it from Day 1

Dolly Parton's had enough of seeing her home state engulfed by wildfires, and she's doing something about it. In a video message released today, she's announced a telethon to raise a total of $1000 per month to every family affected by the wildfires.

It's not the first time Dolly's economics has been spot-on; she's had it in her from the very beginnings of her career when she sang to her chickens in Tennessee. Here's a few more times she's shown herself to be a natural economist.

1. She's the product of a good old fashioned barter-economy deal between her dad and their doctor.

Dolly Parton Family
So. Many. Partons.

Dolly Parton was the fourth of 11 kids in a large and very poor family on a farm in Tennessee. Her dad didn't have any money to pay the doctor who delivered her, so he paid in grain instead. Sounds like good old-fashioned barter economics at work.

2. No-one would pay her to perform at first, so instead she paid her animals to listen.


Dolly wasn't born in a place filled with opportunities for up-and-coming musicians, but that didn't stop her economic mind from drawing in an audience from the earliest stages of her career. As a child, she'd play for the chickens, ducks, and pigs at home, and pay them in corn to stay. According to her autobiography, it worked: "With the aid of a little corn, they could be counted on to hang around for a while."

3. She was a savvy investor in her own career right from the start.


A good investor needs two things: a strong capital base, and a good dose of confidence. Dolly Parton had both. She was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, and knowing all she wanted to do was kickstart her musical career, she asked for cash as a graduation gift. "I knew I would need the money for a grub stake until I became a star. I genuinely thought that would happen before my little bit of money ran out," she said.

4. She knows her property rights when she sees them.

How could she say no to that face?!

Dolly's not one to sell off too quickly – even if Elvis Presley himself is begging to buy. Presley and Parton were about to record together when Presley's manager said he wouldn't record anything he didn't have at least half the rights to – but Parton was having none of it, and she turned him down.

5. She's created thousands and thousands of jobs.

Everybody having fun?!?!

Dolly knows how to create businesses that give back to the community. Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede & Dinner Show has turned Dolly's businesses into the largest employer in the County. It's even spread to Missouri, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Florida, creating jobs across the nation.

6. She capitalizes on her talents to promote her principles (to a catchy tune).

Dolly Parton starred in "Nine to Five", a Jane Fonda film about working women released in 1980. And Dolly's knack for good economics shone through even in her negotiation over her role: she wouldn't take it unless she got to write the theme song too. She earned an Oscar nomination for it, and the film was so successful it was turned into a sitcom, and a Broadway musical.

7. She knows that you have to invest in people too.

Imagination Library

Dolly's not just investing in businesses – she's investing in human capital, too. Her charity, 'Imagination Library', provides free books to preschoolers every month from birth to kindergarten. She set it up in honor of her father, who never learnt to read, and said it was the thing he was proudest of her for.

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