by Marcus K. Dowling
Recently, Dolly Parton turned down being honored via a statue at the Tennessee State Legislature’s chambers in Nashville. However, that has not stopped Volunteer State lawmakers Rep. Mike Sparks and Sen. Raumesh Akbari from introducing a house bill in Tennessee’s state legislature that would make Dolly Parton’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” the state’s official hymn.
According to Bill HB0938, Parton’s take on the religious anthem penned by abolitionist John Henry Newman is a “song of historical significance that [has] influenced the state of Tennessee,” having been recorded by the likes of “artists with strong connections to Tennessee, including Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Fairfield Four, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, the Oak Ridge Boys, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks.”
“Amazing Grace” has been a constant part of Parton’s songbook and was even recontextualized as the track “Shine On,” for her 1998 LP Hungry Again — which she also performed at Tammy Wynette’s funeral the same year at the Ryman Auditorium. Furthermore, the bill honoring the song “commemorates the life of John Newman and solidifying the [anti-slave trading] cause [for which] he fought.
When not having her rendition of a three-hundred-year-old hymn advocated for as a state song, Dolly Parton has recently received a dose of the very COVID-19 vaccine for which she funded the developmental research. As well, she had her hit single “9 to 5” flipped into “5 to 9” for a Squarespace Super Bowl commercial that also doubled as the launch of her signature perfume line. Add onto this her recent involvement with Apple’s latest Fitness+ app, and her sixty-fifth year of activity in country music is as busy as her first.