Even in 1961, she's still got some hair.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
February 09, 2021
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Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Long before there was 9 to 5, Dollywood, and a whole collection of chart-topping hits, Dolly Parton was a yet-to-be-discovered little girl who loved music and her family living in Eastern Tennessee. Having grown up in a time before omnipresent smartphones, there's little audio or video footage of Parton as a young singer, making us all the more thrilled when a recording from her early days surfaces.

Today is one of those days. As we first caught wind of from country music site Wide Open Country, Knoxville-area film archivist Bradley Reeves posted a very special video earlier this month on YouTube of Parton performing at age 14 in 1961. The gig takes place for WIVK Radio's Cas Walker show, a former Knoxville mayor and beloved host of his namesake radio and TV variety show, The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour.

Listen to Southern Living's "Biscuits & Jam" podcast to hear interviews from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, and more!

"Rare silent 8mm home movie footage shot by Haroldine Worthington in Fountain City, Tennessee, 1961, at the gas station parking lot at the corner of Essary Road and Broadway," writes Reeves in the YouTube description. "The footage consists of a WIVK-Radio Cas Walker show remote featuring a live[performance] by a 14-year-old Dolly Parton, along with an all-star cast of east Tennessee country music legends including Red Rector, Fred E. Smith, The Webster Bothers, Bud and Willie G. Brewster, Little Robert Van Winkle, Gloria Jean, Cas Walker, Jim Dick, and Danny Bailey," he continues, adding his gratitude for Marianne Worthington for providing the original reel of her mother's footage for his posting. Watch below.

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What a Smoky Mountains star! From gas station parking lots to Grammy award-winning artist, it's certainly amazing to see a young Parton doing what she does best—strumming a guitar and making people smile—years before she catapulted into the spotlight.