Dolly Parton reveals she invested her ‘I Will Always Love You’ royalties into a Black community

By | January 30, 2023

As if we need any more reason to love Dolly Parton, the 75-year-old singer just keeps on giving us more.

In an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” Parton revealed to host Andy Cohen that she invested the songwriting royalties she earned from Whitney Houston’s rendition of her song “I Will Always Love You” to a local Black community in Nashville.

Parton reportedly earned $10 million from Houston’s cover.

“I bought a property in what was the Black area of town and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there and it was just off the beaten path from 16th Avenue,” she responded when Cohen asked her what the best thing she bought using those song royalties was.

After all these years, Parton is proud to say that she’s pleased with her investment.

“It was a whole strip mall, and I thought this is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney, so I just thought, ‘This is great, I’m just going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well.’ So, I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.’” she said.

Parton wrote the song “I Will Always Love You” when she was trying to leave Porter Wagoner’s show. She started working with him in the program in 1967, and she told Wagoner she would only stay on the show for five years.

However, five years passed, and she was still in the show.

“We were having big hit duets. It was his show, and I understood all that, but I still wanted to go. So we were going around and around with that,” Parton said in an interview with the Tennessean.

Parton thought about how she was going to make Wagoner understand how much she appreciated everything, even if she needed to go. So she resorted to what she does best: writing songs. That’s when she wrote the lyrics to “I Will Always Love You.”

Watch and give it a listen below.

The song became part of Parton’s 1974 album “Jolene” and earned a number one spot on country music charts. She rerecorded the version for the soundtrack “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” in 1982, and the song once again earned a top spot.

In 1992, Houston recorded her own rendition of the song for her film, “The Bodyguard,” which she starred in with Kevin Costner. The song was part of the original soundtrack album of “The Bodyguard” that bagged the Grammy Album of the Year Award in 1993.

When Parton heard Houston’s version, she said her “heart almost just popped.” She also dispelled rumors about her and Houston having a feud over the song.

The “Jolene” singer purchased the 6,317-square-foot Mission-style complex in Nashville in February 1997. According to well-known Nashville historian David Ewing, Parton’s contribution came at a time when most artists wouldn’t even consider the neighborhood to purchase a property.

“Clearly, Dolly Parton could have bought a property anywhere in Nashville,” Ewing said. “And at the time, it probably would have made more sense for who she was. I mean, it would have made more sense for Dolly to buy a music room where all the recording companies are and the artists management companies are.”

“It is truly a statement that Dolly would buy over there, well before it became populated with energy entertainment, restaurants and residential neighborhoods,” he added.

This move by Parton is no surprise, as she has always used her platform to talk about people who don’t get the attention they deserve.

“The fact that Dolly Parton would have a presence in this very famous historically Black neighborhood is a very cool thing and very thoughtful,” Ewing said.

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