Dolly Parton Says She Used ‘I Will Always Love You’ Royalties To Support a Black Neighborhood

by Keeli Parkey

Country music icon Dolly Parton is much more than a singer and a songwriter. She is also famous for her many philanthropic efforts over the years.

For example, her Imagination Library has given around 150 million books to children around the world. These books are given to children from birth to the age of 5 for free. Parton also contributed $1 million to COVID-19 vaccine research and development.

So, the news that she used royalties from one of her most famous songs to support a Black neighborhood in Nashville. According to PEOPLE, Dolly Parton shared this news during a recent appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen.

During the interview, Cohen wanted to know what Parton had purchased with the royalties she made after Whitney Houston covered Parton’s song, “I Will Always Love You,” for the film “The Bodyguard.” The famous country star penned the song as a goodbye to her singing partner and television costar Porter Wagoner. She left his show in 1973 to pursue her own career.

After Houston’s cover of the song was released, Dolly Parton reportedly made more than $10 million in royalties from it during the 1990s alone. The song still continues to generate royalties for her.

Dolly Parton Purchased a ‘Whole Strip Mall’ in Nashville

So, what did she decide to do with the money?

“I bought my big office complex down in Nashville,” Dolly Parton, who is now 75, shared. “So I thought, ‘Well, this is a wonderful place to be. I bought a property down in what was the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there. It was off the beaten path from 16th Avenue and I thought, ‘Well, I am gonna buy this place — the whole strip mall.'”

She also decided buying the property was a tribute to Whitney Houston.

“And I thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be,’ considering it was Whitney,” Dolly Parton also shared. “I thought this was great — I’m just gonna be down here with her people, who are my people as well. So I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.'”

Parton has previously praised Houston’s performance of “I Will Always Love You.” She also said the success of Houston’s cover proved to her that her songwriting abilities had value. She shared these feelings with PEOPLE in September 2020.

“You never know when you’re writing songs, how they’re going to turn out. But after ‘I Will Always Love You’ became a worldwide thing (in 1992), it was in the movie (The) Bodyguard, and it was No. 1. I really felt my worth,” Parton said. “Whitney did such a fantastic job. And I thought, ‘Wow. I wrote that little song.’ That’s when I felt my worth as a songwriter. This is my gift and I’m going to do the best I can with it.”

Dolly Parton wanted to perform the famous song alongside Whitney Houston. Sadly, however, they never had the chance before Houston’s death in 2012.