‘A Holly Dolly Christmas’: What made Dolly Parton contemplate suicide? Singer's faith explored in CBS special
The program will amplify the joy of celebration with some euphoric, faith-ﬁlled hymns from the singer
This year everybody needs a bit of extra Christmas cheer and country legend Dolly Parton graced fans with a new record, "A Holly Dolly Christmas." It marks Parton's first holiday release in three decades. Now fans of the nine-time Grammy winner can see her return to television screens with the CBS special 'A Holly Dolly Christmas’ on December 6. Parton will entertain us with her festive melodies “from an intimate, candle-lit set”. The program will amplify the joy of celebration with some euphoric, faith-ﬁlled hymns from the singer. To our delight, the ‘Jolene’ star will also share personal stories and faith-based recollections with her songs from her record-breaking album ‘A Holly Dolly Christmas’.
The album debuted earlier this fall at No 1 on Billboard's holiday and country album charts. The album comprising of 12 songs has songs like ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ and ‘Mary Did You Know’. Both the songs allude to religious connotations. They are melancholic, passionate, and somber in tone emanating Parton’s tryst with religion.
"'Mary, Did You Know?' is one of the greatest, sweetest, well-written songs that I’ve ever had the chance to sing on,” Parton reportedly shared. “When I was recording it, I got very emotional. It is to me what Christmas is about and I’m proud to be able to sing it for my upcoming album.” The lyrics of the song also allude to how Christ saved humanity. “Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water/ Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters”, reads the lyrics in the beginning.
This makes us wonder what shaped Parton’s deep-rooted faith in the Almighty? Let's take a look
From Rags to Riches, God was there
Besides her unmatchable talent, Dolly always had the blessings of God. Her rags to riches story and loving 50-year-old marriage with businessman Carl Dean is a testament to that. Born to a poor household in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, she didn't have much growing up, but she did have dreams of making it out of her small town. She grew up surrounded by music; however, her family members, including her mother, sang and played guitar. Young Dolly also took to performing in the church choir and later at local television and radio shows in Knoxville, Tennessee. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut three years later, and moved to Nashville at 18, right after finishing high school to embark on a career in the world of glitz and glamour.
As we earlier reported she met husband Carl on her very first day in Nashville and got married in secret two years later in 1966. Interestingly, her documentary Biography: Dolly' revealed that it was her reclusive husband Carl was the inspiration for hits like beloved country hits like 'Jolene', 'From Here to the Moon and Back,' and 'Forever Love,' among others.
The 50 times Grammy-nominated artist quickly garnered fame with her hits and became a household name. But despite tasting success, the star never forgot to be gracious to god. In a 2009 interview she said, “Well, you've got to keep your faith, first of all. I pray every day, I always have. I always believed that God would provide. But I think people are going to have to just really keep the faith. They're going to have to concentrate on what's going on. Be aware, maybe more aware than what they've had to be. We all are having to really pay attention now. We've been so spoiled so long, those of us who do have money.”
Keeping in mind her past background she urged people to pray and show gratitude. “But I have been very poor, and I know a lot of poor people or, you know, that were having hard times before, and now they're having worse times. So, more than anything, just pay attention, keep the faith, and we'll just pray for our president, we'll pray for our country and do the best we can. And hopefully, we can all pull together, and pull ourselves out of this mess and be prosperous again.”
Suicide attempt and tragedies instilled faith
While Dolly was at the peak of success many times in her 5-decade long career, she also sailed through rough waters over her public image, rumored affairs, sexuality and more. However, never for a second did her faith crumble.
Dolly's public appearance drew flak for her buxom curves and petite figure. She had been slammed as "trashy” and "Backwards Barbie”. The songstress faced a low point in her career in early ’80s. Yahoo News reported that she had a nightmare experience working with actor Burt Reynolds on the 1982 movie ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’.The songstress turned actor received death threats during her tour at that time. She even confronted health issues like serious abdominal bleeding and gained 50 pounds from overeating. The final blow came when she had an affair with an unidentified lover outside of her marriage that made her suicidal. It was rumored to have been with her band leader Gregg Perry.
Dolly reportedly mentioned her suicide attempt but did not reveal the name of the lover. She said, “I was sitting upstairs in my bedroom one afternoon when I noticed in the nightstand drawer my gun that I keep for burglars. I looked at it a long time … Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs.” Dolly said how her dog was a messenger sent by God that saved her life. "The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality … I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God."
Dolly did not reveal the name of the man who broke her heart but admitted "it just about killed me.""I cried an ocean," she reportedly said. "But I ain’t gonna talk about it anymore. I’ve got to keep some mystery." She later recounted how the suicide attempt deepened her faith in god. "After that, my life changed in a positive way. That frightening moment with the gun was very, very humbling. I kind of think it was God's way to bring me to my knees long enough to pray."
Now as the 74-year-old star is ready to take the stage with the CBS special with some faith-filled renditions, one can only await her thoughts on religion and spirituality after such tragedies. It will stream on CBS All Access starting Sunday, December 6 from 8:30-9:30 pm, ET and 8-9 pm, PT.