Country Throwback: Dolly Parton Blows Away 1978 CMA Awards with ‘Heartbreaker’

by Emily Morgan
country-throwback-dolly-parton-blows-away-1978-cma-awards-with-heartbreaker

While some remember Dolly Parton’s appearance at the 12th annual CMA awards for her untimely wardrobe malfunction, her performance of her song “Heartbreaker” is what really turned heads. 

Before she accepted the award for “Entertainer of the Year” that night, Parton effortlessly nailed her performance of her 1978 hit. 

Appearing in her usual angelic-like manner, Parton took the stage in a gold dress paired with a pink shawl. Rocking her higher-than-the-heavens hair, she serenaded the crowd with her love song. Her voice perfectly matched her outfit as she delivered heavenly notes with grace and ease. 

Despite the formality of the event, the crowd couldn’t contain themselves during her performance. Before she could even finish the song, the audience erupted in applause. At the time, Dolly Parton was just 32-years-old but had quickly made a name for herself in the country music industry. 

Her success as a country music artist would culminate that night when she took home the award for “Entertainer of the Year.” In addition, Parton was also nominated for “Album of the Year,” “Female of the Year,” and “Singer of the Year.” 

Dolly Parton’s Standout Year

“Heartbreaker,” written by Carole Bayer Sager and David Wolfert, was released by Dolly Parton in July 1978. It served as the first single and title track from the album of the same name. For three consecutive weeks, the song topped the U.S. country singles chart in mid-1978. “Heartbreaker” also peaked at No. 37 on the “Billboard Hot 100” and No. 12 on the “Easy Listening” chart.

The late ’70s were good to Dolly Parton: in 1978 Parton also won a Grammy Award for “Best Female Country Vocal Performance” for her album, Here You Come Again.

She continued to ride that success when she released hits like “Baby I’m Burning” and “You’re the Only One,” all of which charted in the pop “Top 40” and topped the country charts. 

During this time, her popularity increased with multiple television appearances. Following Here You Come Again’s release, she had a candid interview on a Barbara Walters Special in 1977. In 1978, she became known as a household name with appearances on Cher’s ABC television special. She even landed her joint special with Carol Burnett on CBS, called Carol and Dolly in Nashville.

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