To some, “hillbilly” and “white trash” are derogatory terms. But for Dolly Parton, they are both highly praised because she has never been ashamed of where she comes from or how she grew up. In a previous interview, the country music legend opened up about her dirt-poor upbringing, sharing that although she’s come a long way in life since then, she still manages to call herself a “redneck, roughneck” hillbilly. Feels proud.
Dolly Parton grew up poor in the mountains of East Tennessee
Parton grew up with her parents and 11 siblings in Smoky Mountain, Tennessee. They lived in a one-bedroom hut with no electricity or running water.
Although the singer’s family did not have food and shelter when it comes to food, they still had great love for each other. They also had each other, which, according to their mother, made them rich beyond belief.
“Mom said, ‘Look, don’t you ever say we’re poor. We’re not poor people. Now, we don’t have as much material goods as other people do, but wealth isn’t measured by a dollar, ‘” Parton wrote in his 2020 book, Lyricist, My Life in Lyrics.
Dolly Parton embraces her ‘hillbilly, white trash’ roots
While Parton has enjoyed a long and lucrative career as a singer-songwriter since leaving home at the age of 18, she still considers herself “white trash” Hill at heart.
In 2014, the “Jolene” singer told Southern Living that she is proud of where she comes from. While most people are ashamed to come from poor, mountainous people, Parton embraced her upbringing.
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“It’s a compliment to me. I mean we were really Hill. Billy. That’s not an insult to me,” Parton said. “We were just mountain people. We were really redneck, roughneck, hillbilly people. And I’m proud of it. ‘White trash!’ I am People always say, ‘Aren’t you insulted when people call you white trash?’ I say, ‘Well it depends on who is calling me white trash and what they mean by that.’ But we were actually somewhat. Because when you are so poor and you are not educated, you fall into those categories.”
Of course, Parton is a millionaire now, with tons of hit songs, a theme park, and acting credits under her belt. But despite so much success, the singer has not forgotten where she comes from.
“I’m proud of my mountainous, white trash background,” she continued. “For me who keeps you humble; that keeps you well. And no matter how hard you try to get ahead of it – if that’s who you are, then who are you. It will appear once in a while.
Dolly Parton wouldn’t trade her upbringing for anything
For the past five decades, Parton has been taking the music industry by storm, writing and recording songs that have shaped our culture. Although she is one of the most successful and beloved music artists in history, Parton has been humble throughout her career and credits her upbringing for keeping her grounded.
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“I think my childhood made me everything I am today,” the music legend told Entertainment Tonight in 2015. “I wouldn’t trade anything to grow up in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve never been ashamed of my people, no matter how poor or dirty we are. I like to live where I am and be with those people.” I do what I have.”
She said, “It’s made me who I am. It’s that spiritual foundation; it’s that family; the love of family; it’s just that easy life, feeling like part of nature.”