Matt Sayles / AP
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Editor's note: This story first appeared in Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of the Las Vegas Sun.
Who doesn’t know Dolly Parton?
The singer-songwriter has transcended her status as a country music figure, becoming a beloved philanthropist and pop culture icon over the years.
I checked in with Parton in advance of her upcoming album "Blue Smoke" and its supporting world tour, which makes a stop in Primm tonight. "Blue Smoke" hits Australia and New Zealand in February and the U.S. and Europe in May.
Your music appeals to people of all walks of life, to fans of all sorts of other kinds of music, and it even crosses generational barriers. Why is that?
I think a lot of it is that I’ve been around so long and done so much, I think people kind of think of me as family. And you know — you’re always trying to help out family. I don’t know why I’ve been so fortunate to cover so much ground for so long, but it makes me feel proud.
Your themes are very near and dear and relatable in the United States, but you have a huge international following. Do you ever hear from fans abroad?
I’ve been very lucky about that for many years, hearing from Europe and Australia. A lot of people, anywhere, can relate to my earlier songs, the ones about hard times. They really, really let you know how much they appreciate the fact that you’re out there.
Of course, we have our fans here and in Canada, but they know they get to see us more often. We get lots of feedback, letters, messages and all sorts of wonderful things.
And this upcoming tour is a world tour, so you’ll get to see a lot of those fans again?
Yes! In February, we have some dates in New Zealand and Australia. That’s after a few American shows in January, and we’ll be back in the spring for more in the States, and then go to Europe in June. Very excited to do all of that in 2014.
You’ll be promoting your new "Blue Smoke" album on this tour. What can we expect?
There’s a more of a bluegrass-country feel, and I even do some covers. This time we have Bon Jovi’s "Lay Your Hands On Me," which is more of a gospel song that really lends itself to the album. It’s just great for an inspirational, uplifting kind of song.
And then there’s Bob Dylan’s "Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright," one of my favorites. "Blue Smoke" is a song on the album, a bluegrass song about a heartbreak train called the Blue Smoke and the hazy smoke that rolls up the bluegrass of the Smoky Mountains. Expect bluegrass country players, fiddles, banjos — lots of that throughout this album and even some ballads.
You’re a businesswoman, actress and philanthropist, and, hey, you even have a slot machine here in Las Vegas. Is there really anything you’ve yet to do?
Oh, I’m always looking for new things to explore. I wake up with new dreams every day, and being in the business as long as I have, there are a lot of opportunities. The slots are actually worldwide now, of course there’s the Dollywood theme park, and I’m very proud of the Imagination Library literacy program that helps me help kids.
It’s not just about putting money in my pocket; it’s about putting money out there in the community, as well. When you get in a position to help and do new things, you should. The music is my No. 1 love, but I do enjoy being a part of that.
Jorge Labrador is the news assistant for Las Vegas Magazine.