Dolly Parton’s Worst Career Advice Came From Chet Atkins
Sometimes it’s important to ignore even the most well-intended of advice. It’s a lesson that Dolly Parton learned early on in her career, when she first arrived as a fresh-faced female artist amongst a sea of male acts.
In a recent interview for Cosmopolitan’s "Happy Hour" podcast, Parton was asked who had given her both the best and worst pieces of advice about how to navigate her music career. According to the country icon, the best advice came from none other than her mother, Avie Lee Parton.
“Mama always said, just be yourself,” Parton remembers. “Be true to what you know you are and what you know you can do; be true to your own talent. Don’t try to be like somebody else.”
On the flip side, Parton’s worst advice came from her collaborator and Grand Ole Opry fixture Chet Atkins. According to Parton, Atkins advised her to ditch her signature look in order to be taken seriously as a musician early in her career.
“Chet said, ‘Dolly, you’re going to need to get rid of all that because people are never going to take you serious if you look like that; you’re just looking too gaudy,” she recalls. “So, after I became a big star, looking the same way -- and even worse at that time -- Chet came up to me and said, 'Boy, I’m sure glad you took my good advice.’
"He thought he was giving me good advice," Parton adds with a laugh, "but I didn’t do it, and it still worked out for me.”
Of course, Parton went on to become a country music icon, big blonde hair and bedazzled outfits and all. Last year, Parton told Woman’s Day that her appearance isn’t necessarily reflective of the "real her."
“I know I look totally artificial, but I’d like to think I’m real where it really counts,” she told the magazine. “It’s how people treat one another and what they do and the way they do it — that’s what should matter. And that takes some time to figure out — you don’t know right away.”
More than 50 years into her career as a country musician, Parton is currently touring the country to promote her latest album, Pure & Simple, set for release on Friday (Aug. 19).
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