Dolly Parton Asks Tennessee Legislature to Stop Push for Statue at State Capitol
A bill proposing a statue of Dolly Parton at the Tennessee State Capitol will not move forward, at the request of the country icon herself. The singer has asked that lawmakers no longer consider the proposal, as she does not think it's a good idea right now.
Rep. John Mark Windle, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, first proposed the addition of a statue of Parton to the state's capitol grounds, in Nashville, in early January. Nashville's Fox 17 reported in early February that the measure had passed in the Naming & Designating Committee, and was headed to the State Government Committee for further approval.
In a statement released on Thursday (Feb. 18), Parton thanks the state legislature for considering the bill but says that while she is "honored and humbled by their intention," she'd like them to stop discussing it further for the time being.
"Given all that is going on in the world, I don't think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time," Parton says. "I hope, though, that somewhere down the road, several years from now or perhaps after I'm gone, if you still feel I deserve it, then I'm certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.
"In the meantime," she adds, "I'll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud."
Rep. Windle's proposal was meant to celebrate Parton's contributions to her home state, including the Imagination Library, Dollywood and, most recently, a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University's COVID-19 research that assisted in the development of the Moderna vaccine, one of two now being used in the United States. The statue would have been funded via donations, grants and gifts rather than taxpayer money, and the community would have been consulted regarding its design and placement, though Windle had suggested that it face the Ryman Auditorium, which is located a few blocks southeast of the capitol.
"At this point in history, is there a better example, not just in America but in the world, of a leader that is [a] kind, decent, passionate human being?" Windle said, calling Parton "a passionate person who loves everyone, and everyone loves her."
While Parton has remained a beloved star since her career began decades ago, she spent much of 2020 in a particularly bright spotlight, thanks not only to her Vanderbilt donation but also because of a new Christmas album, Netflix movie and television special, and pro-Black Lives Matter comments she made during an interview with Billboard. Over the summer, a petition to replace Tennessee's Confederate monuments with statues of Parton garnered thousands of signatures.
Parton's charitable endeavors also include donations to Vanderbilt's children's hospital, the LeConte Medical Center in Parton's hometown of Sevierville, and a fund for victims of the 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer was recognized in 2019 as MusiCares' Person of the Year -- the first country artist to ever receive the honor, which recognizes artists' philanthropic efforts.
A Look at Dolly Parton's Biggest Charitable Endeavors: