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Dolly Parton
Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

Dolly Parton weighs in on plans for a statue of her in Tennessee Capitol

The country music legend says now isn’t the time for putting her on a pedestal

Dolly Parton has responded to calls for a statue of her to be erected on the grounds of her home state’s Capitol. Backed by thousands of fans and a Tennessee lawmaker, the proposal would honour the country music star as “a true Tennessee hero” in recognition of her music and philanthropy.

Parton, however, has suggested that now isn’t the time for a statue in her name. “I want to thank the Tennessee legislature for their consideration of a bill to erect a statue of me on the Capitol grounds,” she writes in a statement posted to Twitter. “I am honored and humbled by their intention but I have asked the leaders of the state legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration.”

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.” 

Parton does say that she would “stand proud” in the Capitol “somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it,” adding: “In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud.”

An initial idea to replace Tennessee’s racist monuments with a Dolly Parton statue was shared in a June 2020 petition, which continues to gain support with over 25,000 signatures at the time of writing. The official bill was introduced by Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle on January 13, 2021, explaining that the project would be financed with gifts, grants, and donations, handled by a dedicated Dolly Parton Fund.

Parton’s philanthropic work has included the Imagination Library program, which sends books across the world to help improve child literacy, and advocacy for racial justice. Last year, she also donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, helping to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this month, Parton revealed that she was offered a presidential medal of freedom – the highest civilian honour in the US – by Donald Trump, but turned it down twice due to health concerns during the pandemic. As modest as she is iconic, the singer isn’t sure she’d accept one from Joe Biden either, saying: “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.”