Dolly Parton On Her Legacy: ‘I Want to Be Remembered As A Good Person’

Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter and successful businesswoman, but those aren’t the most important attributes about her. Instead, the 77-year-old says it’s her philanthropy, and specifically, her Imagination Library, which she hopes people remember her for, long after she is gone.

“I’m very proud of the Imagination Library where we give books to children. I think that’ll be as big a part of my legacy as my songwriting and my singing,” Parton tells WSMV. “I also always feel that when you get in a position to help that you should have a Christian heart, [like] growing up in my grandfather’s church, and giving and receiving. They’re both supposed to be done with an open heart and all that, but I just really feel like it’s important to give back, and we’re supposed to do that.”

Few people in the public eye have been as generous as Parton, who famously donated ne million dollars to help fund the COVID-19 vaccine, and also gave a million dollars to pediatric infectious disease research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Far more than her awards and accolades, it’s her generosity that she hopes people talk about, long after she is gone.

“I want to be remembered as a good person, a person that tried to do a good job to make the most of every good thing I was given … all my talent,” Parton said.

The Country Music Hall of Fame member was honored last year with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, recognizing her numerous financial contributions throughout her career. While the accolade was nice, Parton says she never considered anything but giving away some of what she has been given.

“When I got into a position to be able to do it on a larger scale, I did,” Parton told Vogue.  “It means a lot to me. How hard can it be for me to take pride in the Imagination Library, knowing that I’m helping put books in the hands of children all over the world? It’s more about children learning to read — it’s the fact they get recognized. They get this little book with their little name on it in the mail, and they feel special. They start taking pride in themselves, and they know that somebody out there is thinking of [them].”

In November, Parton was given $100 million from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, through his Bezos Courage and Civility Award, to donate to the charities of her choice.

“Well, I couldn’t believe it,” Parton told Entertainment Tonight. “First of all, I cried on the phone with Jeff Bezos. And when I found out he was really serious about it, I just cried because of the gift and how much good I will really be able to do with that.”

Read ‘Dolly Parton: 11 Things To Know About the Country Music Queen’ here.