A new Dolly Parton album is not necessarily news. In the past 50 years and nine months, she’s unveiled 43 studio albums, another four live ones and a mammoth 184 compilations. But this time, things are a little different.
For the first time ever, the musician has recorded a children’s album, ‘I Believe In You’, and she tells HuffPost UK that “it just seemed to make sense that this was the perfect year to do it”.
Despite her constant success, even Dolly Parton is still subject to to the requests of a record label, as she explains: “I have always wanted to do a children’s album and I talked about it many times but life in the business takes over.
“Somebody says, ‘oh we need to put out another album for the next tour etc etc…’. And so time goes by and you don’t do it.”
So why now? This is where her Imagination Library – which provides free books for children around the world and will benefit from the album’s proceeds – comes in.
Dolly isn’t the first celebrity to launch a charity, but she is the only one whose organisation is currently celebrating the fact it has sent 100 million books to children around the world.
In North America, the Imagination Library posts every single child their first book, a copy of ‘Little Engine That Could’, and they also operating in the UK, and one partnership, with Southwark Council, makes sure all under fives in the borough receive one book a month.
As the charity expands its reach, Dolly and her team are currently working to get books into the hands of children that have less than others, specifically those who have been left displaced and in need following recent natural disasters in the States.
“We’re donating hundreds of thousands of books to a lot of those victims in those places that have lost everything,” she says. “To schools and shelters and families, where they’re stuck with all of these calamities.
“And so that makes us feel good, to be able to help them that way too.”
Now that the foundation is 22 years old, Dolly often finds herself meeting university-age teenagers who received the books as infants, which is as rewarding and downright lovely as it sounds.
“That makes you feel really good, and all the ones I’ve met so far are really special children,” she says. “I like to think that …