Dolly Parton Used Royalties from Whitney Houston Cover for Incredible Act of Charity

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Country icon Dolly Parton revealed on Thursday during her visit on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that she made a large purchase with the royalty money from her song I Will Always Love You. The song was famously covered by Whitney Houston in 1992 for the singer/actress’ drama classic The Bodyguard. 

According to Forbes, Dolly Parton made $10 million from Houston’s well-known cover of the song and still makes money off of it today. She states she bought her office complex in Nashville with the royalties, which is located in the black area of town. 

“It was mostly just black families and people that lived around there. It was off the beaten path from 16th avenue,” Dolly Parton tells Andy Cohen. She also explains that she thought if she was going to buy the place it would be perfect for her to be considering it was very much Whitney. 

Dolly Parton further shares that she thought this would be a great place to settle and she wanted to be down there with Whitney’s people. “And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.’”

Dolly Parton Recalls Listening to Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ Cover For the First Time

In a November 2020 chat with The Oprah Conversation, Dolly Parton shares her reaction to hearing Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You cover for the very first time while she was driving to her office in Nashville. “I was shot so full of adrenaline and energy, I had to pull off because I was afraid that I would wreck [my car],” Dolly Parton recalls. She couldn’t believe how incredible the cover was. 

Dolly Parton also explains that she spoke to David Foster, who produced the song, and told him to make sure that the last verse was included in the cover. “Because I did it as a recitation and a lot of people say, ‘I can’t recite. I can’t do recitation,’ they leave out.”

Dolly Parton points out that Linda Ronstadt had recorded the song, but left that whole verse out. Parton was determined to get the last verse in. “I said, ‘Make sure that if you record the song, that you put that verse in.’”

Dolly Parton then says she didn’t hear anything about the cover for months. She didn’t even know if Houston and her team actually done the song. It wasn’t until the car ride that she heard about the cover. Houston put the final verse into her cover.

Whitney Houston’s cover of Parton’s I Will Always Love You spent 14 weeks at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song still holds the record for being the best-selling single by a woman in music history. The song re-entered the charts after Houston’s sudden death in 2012.