- Dolly Parton is a legendary country music singer/songwriter who has 11 Grammys and a few hit movies, like 9 to 5, under her belt
- The “Jolene” hitmaker grew up in a one-room cabin in East Tennesse with two parents and 11 siblings
- Dolly’s mother taught the 12 children to sing and play instruments, with many of Dolly’s sisters and brothers becoming musicians as well
Dolly Parton geared up for the holiday season with a new network special called Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas, which aired December 1 on NBC. The legendary singer/songwriter shared the “frenetic backstage story and delightful on-camera results of her desire to uplift an exhausted world’s spirits by sharing the unique ‘mountain magic’ she has always found in and around Dollywood at Christmas.” The show included some of Dolly’s favorite songs, plus a few Christmas classics.
Of course, the holidays are all about family, something the East Tennessee native knows without a doubt as she is the fourth of 12 children! Dolly was raised by her two parents, Avie Lee Caroline and Robert Lee Parton Sr., in a one-room cabin with 11 siblings! “It was crowded!” Dolly told The Guardian in 2016. “With that many brothers and sisters there was plenty of teasing and fighting but we were all in it together.”
Although the family struggled financially, Dolly said they always made the best of it. “We were poor but I never felt poor,” she explained to the outlet. “We always had food, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted but Mama and Daddy were always quick to point out the families that suffered far more than we ever did. It all seemed just natural to me.”
Dolly went on to a successful recording career, leaving the family home after high school to chase her dreams. While her siblings may not have made a big of a name for themselves as their sister, Dolly has said that they were all very talented. “There’s 12 of us kids, six girls and six boys, and we all sing and write and play,” she told NPR in 2010. “It’s just that I think I’ve taken it farther. I don’t know that I’m near as good as some of the others, but I’ve been more willing to sacrifice and work a little harder than some of the others might have been willing, you know, to do just because they wanted to have a family and do other things. But there’s a lot of talent in this family.”
Keep reading to find out more about Dolly’s talented siblings (in order from eldest to youngest), below.
Willadeene recorded a gospel album with her sisters Stella and Cassie before switching lanes and becoming an author. Her first book was Smoky Mountain Memories: Stories from the Hearts of the Parton Family, which tells stories of the Parton family upbringing. Willadeene also put together a cookbook called All-Day Singing & Dinner on the Ground.
David, Coy & Bobby
Dolly’s brothers David, Coy and Bobby are close to her in age. The three never ventured into the music arena and have kept relatively private as not much is known about them.
Stella Parton is no stranger to the country music scene. With her own 40 years of experience, she has created her own path as a country singer and even had some successful songs in the 1970s.
In 1967, Cassie’s mother took her and her sisters, Stella and Willadeene, Nashville to record a gospel album called In the Garden. Cassie also would perform with her siblings at Dollywood, Dolly’s amusement park
Randy Parton was a singer and regularly performed at Dollywood. Randy passed away in 2021 at the age of 67.
Unfortunately, Larry died when he was only 4 years old. Dolly was just nine at the time of his death.
Floyd wrote and performed songs with Dolly throughout his life, including songs like “Rockin’ Years”, which made No. 1 on the Country Music Charts in 1991, “Nickels and Dimes”, and “Waltz Me to Heaven.” Unfortunately, Floyd passed in 2018.
Freida Estelle & Rachel Ann
Dolly’s mom gave birth to twins Frieda and Rachel to finalize her brood of a dozen. Freida starting out singing back up for Dolly, but eventually left the business to open a wedding chapel and is an ordained minister, according to Wideopencountry. Rachel is a retired actress and singer, best known for her starring role in the 1980s sitcom Nine to Five.