Dolly Parton marked a major milestone on Saturday, celebrating 50 years since she was welcomed into the Grand Ole Opry.
On Saturday, the country music legend honoured the occasion with two sold-out shows on Nashville’s most legendary stage. Prior to taking to the stage, a who’s who of country performers — including Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith and Candi Carpenter, — paying tribute by performing her songs.
Speaking with reporters, via Billboard, Parton recalled growing up listening to the Opry on the radio, and that her association with the show actually extended even further back, with Parton just 13 the first time she performed at the Opry — introduced by Johnny Cash, no less.
“That was always my dream and my daddy loved the Grand Ole Opry, so we’d listen to it back home [with] me dreaming of being on it,” she recalled. “The night that I actually became a member 50 years ago was one of the highlights of my whole life because it was a true dream of mine… You never know what’s going to happen to you in your life. You never know if your dreams will come true. And if they do, you wonder how people will remember you when you’re older. I’m older and I’m seeing how people remember me and that makes me feel very humble and I’m just very honoured that I’m still around.”
Despite being a member of the Opry for a half-century, Parton said it’s an honour that has never diminished for her. “I have been so fortunate to see so many of my dreams come true and I don’t take any of it for granted. As I often say, I count my blessings a lot more than I count my money,” she told Billboard.
“I have so many memories, even as a child, watching the people backstage and standing out there on that stage where all the great people stood, thinking maybe someday I can be part of it,” she added. “Now that I’ve been fortunate enough to see that dream come true, I wonder if some little kid might be saying, ‘I bet Dolly Parton stood right here,’ when I used to think, ‘I’m standing where Kitty Wells stood.’ So that’s what makes you thankful, that’s what makes you grateful. It’s really a humbling experience.”