Country Throwback: Dolly Parton and Patti LaBelle Turn Their Acrylics into Instruments in 1987

by Halle Ames

Anyone with fake or long nails knows they are a handy tool for many situations. Dolly Parton and Patti LaBelle agree as they use their long acrylics as instruments. 

Once you get fake nails you are tapping on everything, whether you realize it or not. While it can be annoying to some, Dolly Parton uses it to her advantage by keeping the beat to songs. 

Dolly Parton’s Nail Band

In an interview with Patti LaBelle in 1987, the two women break out in song as they play their innovative nail guitars. 

“You know I write a lot of songs when I don’t have my guitar,” explains Dolly Parton. “You know, I beat around on my dashboard in my car when I’m riding around, writing songs. But then I have a little rhythm that we can do with these acrylic nails. Can you do that? Oh, good.”

“See, we did plan this, but we didn’t know how it was going to sound,” said LaBelle. “It sounds real cute!”

The women start to rub their nails back and forth like they were strumming an instrument. They then begin to break out singing “Shortnin’ Bread,” originally by E.C. Perrow in 1915. 

Patti LaBelle even has a solo with her long talons, where the woman burst out laughing

In addition, the two artists look dazzling in their matching black long puffer sleeved dresses that are covered in sparkles. Parton and LaBelle also rock the huge 80s curly hair. 

The interview comes as part of Dolly Parton’s song-and-dance show series in 1976 and again in 1987. Both the shows were named after the famous host, titled Dolly.

However, in 1987, Parton welcomed R&B and soul artist Patti LaBelle to the show. 

Patti LaBelle

Now 76-years-old, LaBelle began her career in the 1960s as the lead vocalist for Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. After a very decorated career, her name sits in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as the Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame. In addition, Rolling Stones included Patti LaBelle on their list of 100 Greatest Singers.