As CMA New Artist of the Year and recent GRAMMY nominee Jelly Roll continues to rise in fame, the Tennessee native says he’s taking notes from one of the best of all-time – Dolly Parton.
“I think using the term, ‘icon,’ is the best way to describe Dolly Parton,” he told Audacy’s Rob + Holly. “I’ll never forget the first time I heard, ‘I’ll Always Love You,’ or, ‘Jolene,’ or these huge records.”
Aside from her impactful music over the years, Jelly says he studies interviews from across Parton’s career to help him prepare for the ever-growing amount of interviews he is asked to participate in as his popularity continues to grow.
“What Dolly don’t know, that I can’t wait to tell her one day, is the only media training I’ve ever done in my life was watching old Dolly Parton interviews,” he laughed. "Nobody knows how to carry [themselves] with grace, integrity, but also be assertive and not take bull, but keep a smile. She wrote the book on how to deal with media.”
One interview in particular has stood out to Jelly Roll, and that’s Parton’s 1977 conversation with Barbara Walters. During the chat, Walters questioned Parton about her “over the top” appearance, while also asking Parton if she felt like a ”joke.” What would’ve caused many people to get defensive (rightfully so), cast a light on Dolly’s every-present grace and humble nature.
“[Barbara Walters] was pokin’ at her about how she dressed and carried herself and then Dolly finally looked at her with this big Dolly smile and said, ‘Honey, I don’t care what people think about me. I know what my family thinks about me, I know what my spirit it, I know who I am as a human, I know how I take care of people and how I approach this life,’” Jelly recalled.
“‘If somebody wants to judge me based on what color lipstick I’m wearin’ or how my hair is fixed up, that’s on them. That says a lot more about them than it does of me, but that stuff don’t make an opinion to me, sweetheart. You don’t have to keep asking me about it.’ I was like, ‘Way to go, Dolly!’”
While Jelly makes clear he is taking media notes from Parton’s interviews, he also admits he is taking a page out of her philanthropic examples too – something both artists have shown means a lot to them.
“Even outside of music, her philanthropy. Her going back to Sevierville [Tennessee] and buying her entire town. Then making her entire town a destination. Not just what she’s done for charities, but the fact that she turned Sevierville, Tennessee into a premiere destination for families to go to. She changed the economical structure of East Tennessee by herself. It’s crazy!”
Hear more about Jelly’s thoughts on Dolly Parton by checking out the clip above.
Words by Monica Rivera Interview by Rob + Holly