The legendary musician joins us on Biscuits & Jam.

Dolly Parton's Christmas Wish

Episode 22: November 17, 2020

Amongst many other roles and accomplishments throughout her life, Dolly Parton is an entertainment icon. As a prolific songwriter and influential vocalist, she's responsible for some of the biggest country and pop hits of all-time, like "I Will Always Love You," "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors", and "9 to 5." She's also highly respected for her philanthropy efforts, like her Imagination Library literacy program, where almost 1 million children below kindergarten receive a free book by mail every single month. She has paved the way and then some, for generations of women, in every aspect of music. And last year, she was the subject of Dolly Parton's America, a popular podcast taking listeners through her life and career, introducing her to a new legion of fans. With a recent holiday album and new Christmas special on Netflix later this month, Dolly joins me today to talk about how the cooking she grew up with just has that ​certain special something​.

Dolly Parton
Credit: Stacie Huckeba

On Her Best Christmas Memories

"Christmas was just a special time. Mama always made things special. Daddy would always cut our tree and we would decorate it ourselves with all of our homemade ornaments. And, of course, Mama would always tell the story of Christmas. It was just a joyful time. She read the Bible a lot so we knew the real story. She made that all come to life. And ​we believed in Santa Claus, but ​he never found us. We figured he was going to find us one day. But in the meantime, ​we made a lot of things for each other."

On Her Mother's Cooking

"She taught us girls how to cook. You know, there's five of us girls, so we all knew Mom's recipes and ​we all still cook like her. Well, me more than anybody else because I'm still willing to use the grease and the lard and the butter. A lot of my sisters tried to cut all that out, but you can't get that good taste without all that stuff."

On Her Christmas Album

"I figured people weren't actually going to be able to get out and do Christmas like they normally do, and I thought this would be a perfect year for it. I thought the "Holly Dolly Christmas" was just a perfect little title for it. It has a lot of fun songs in it. A lot of the old traditional songs like "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and ​"Holly Jolly Christmas." I wrote a few of the new ones, and I'm singing with a lot of great artists like Miley Cyrus, and her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. My brother Randy and my niece are singing on one track too. I did a song with Michael Bublé and one with Jimmy Fallon. And one of my favorite Christmas songs ever is a song called "Pretty Paper" that Willie Nelson wrote. And he did a duet with me on the album. So we had a lot of great artists on the album."

On Christmas at Dollywood

"We are planning to go ahead with Christmas with all of those millions of lights and all the shows. We're excited about the winter season. We're staying very alert. We're doing ​things the right way: social distancing and wearing masks….​We're hoping to have a wonderful Christmas season at Dollywood."

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About Biscuits & Jam:  In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, Editor in Chief of Southern Living, will sit down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid will take us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.

Listen to the full episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazon Music, and Stitcher.

Visit our Podcast Primer for information on how to download and listen to a podcast.