This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” and Dollywood is going all out to honor the milestone. From March 11th to April 8th, the Tennessee theme park will be introducing the “I Will Always Love You Celebration”. It will honor the wide-reaching impact of songwriting and songs.
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Every Saturday, attendees of the celebration will be treated to a special show by an award-winning artist. This is all part of its Celebrity Concert Series. They’ll also have a chance to hear directly from celebrated songwriters. Dana Black, who created George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” and “Write This Down,” will be showcased. Also to be featured is Billy Montana, co-writer for Sara Evans’ “Suds in the Bucket.” Finally, Steve Dean, the mastermind behind Reba McEntire’s “Walk On,” will also be honored. Special food and decor items along with commemorative merchandise will be available at each event. A day trip to Dollywood will set you back $89, with children 4 and under getting in for free.
Of course, the celebration has attracted some impressive names. Country music artists Natalie Grant, Ricky Skaggs, and Kentucky Thunder, Jo Dee Messina, Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers, and Lauren Alaina will be performing during the celebration. “It’s humbling to be a part of such a beautiful celebration,” Jo Dee Messina said in a statement. “This isn’t just a show; it’s inclusion in celebrating a huge part of musical history. ‘I Will Always Love You’ has crossed the lines of musical genres. [It] has transcended throughout generations, and has impacted people worldwide. Dang, Dolly, that’s amazing!”
Why Dollywood is highlighting the iconic Dolly Parton penned hit
Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 as a farewell to her partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner. After starting her career on his television show The Porter Wagoner Show, Parton set out for solo stardom that same year and recorded the tune. Released one year later as a single, this beautiful serenade soared all the way to No 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1974.
Whitney Houston’s rendition of the song skyrocketed to international fame when she featured it on the soundtrack for The Bodyguard, The cover was widely acclaimed and became the highest-selling single by a female artist. The cover earned Whitney two Grammy Awards in 1994: Record of Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Parton has continually praised Houston’s interpretation throughout all these years.
“My heart just started to beat so fast and then when she got into ‘I Will Always Love You,’ when that opened up, and I realized that was my song, it was the most overwhelming thing,” Parton told Oprah Winfrey in 2020. “I could not believe how she did that. How beautiful it was that my little song had turned into that, so that was a major, major thing.”