Berklee's Great American Songbook Pays Tribute to Dolly Parton

Colette Greenstein
January 29, 2019
Press release

The concert will span Parton’s six-decade career with songs such as “Jolene,” “Joshua,” “9 to 5,” and more.

Dolly Parton
Image by Getty Images

Berklee's Signature Series presents the Great American Songbook: The Music of Dolly Parton on Sunday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC). From rousing production numbers to intimate, down-home songs—delivered with a raw, acoustic sentiment akin to Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe—this performance will showcase a global array of students, faculty, and special guests. Tickets are available online or at the BPC box office, located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.

Produced by Maureen McMullan, Berklee's concert and event producer, with assistant professor Kevin Barry serving as musical director, the concert will span Parton’s six-decade career with songs such as “Jolene,” “Joshua,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Cuts from her Grammy Award–winning bluegrass album, Little Sparrow, and her Trio and Trio II albums (recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) will be performed, along with her most recent hit, “Girl in the Movies,” from the Netflix film Dumplin,' which was nominated in the Best Original Song (Motion Picture) category at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards.

Selecting Parton was an obvious choice, McMullan says: “Though many perceive her solely as a country artist, on closer inspection of her incredible canon of work, she truly defies a narrow musical categorization.”

The singer-songwriter, actress, businesswoman, producer, and humanitarian has sold more than 100 million records, with 26 no. 1 songs, eight Grammy Awards, 46 Grammy nominations, and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

“From her modest upbringing in the mountains of East Tennessee, Dolly’s iconic career and creative accomplishments serve as an inspiration to our performing arts community. Sung with her expressive and clarion-clear voice, Dolly’s lyric writing often examines the many emotional facets of being a smart, strong, and assertive woman in a male-dominated society and music industry, particularly in her earliest Nashville recordings,” adds McMullan.

In addition, the concert will feature three special guests: Grammy Awardwinning singer-songwriter Paula Cole B.M. '90; singer-songwriter Kristin Cifelli B.M. '98, who has shared the stage with Gillian Welch and Jeffrey Gaines; and Oisín McAuley, lead fiddler of the celebrated Irish traditional music group Danú. McAuley will lend both fiddle and Irish Gaelic vocals on a piece from Parton’s collaboration with the acclaimed Irish folk band Altan, who have also recorded with Alison Krauss and Bonnie Raitt. 

Supported by a full rhythm section, strings, horns, and background vocalists, the audience will traverse Parton’s formative years steeped in spirituals and gospel music in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains; her trademark country writing and late ’70s/early ’80s pop crossover boom; and, most recently, her return to Appalachian folk, bluegrass, and old-world Celtic music.

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