LISTEN: Dolly Parton’s ‘Never-Before-Released’ Vocals on ‘In the Sweet By and By’ Are Flawless

by Jonathan Howard

New Dolly Parton music is always a treat. That comes in the form of a previously “never-before-released” vocal track of In the Sweet By and By. While Dolly has always been a gospel fan, this track doesn’t come on a project of her own. Jerry Salley is working on his Country Faith Bluegrass album that he has worked on since last year. It is a collaboration album with tons of artists contributing.

The recording features a sweet, soft-voiced Dolly Parton surrounded by a bluegrass arrangement. Harmonizing vocals in the form of a quartet back her up throughout the piece. In the Sweet By and By is one of those classic gospel songs that had its run in American pop culture at least for a time. The video was shared with PEOPLE and posted on their site.

Alongside the country music legend on the song includes Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, Bradley Walker, and Salley himself. As a performer and producer on the album, Salley was ecstatic about having Dolly Parton be a part of the project. “As I was producing the project in 2020, Dolly preferred not to venture out to the studio but graciously offered to send me a never-before-released vocal,” Salley explained.

That never-before-released recording featured Dolly’s vocals accompanied by just a guitar. Being a bluegrass album, and Salley a producer, the track was remade. According to Salley, Parton loved the edits. “[She] told me I could take it and do whatever I wanted to with it as long as it met her final approval, of course.” And meet her approval it did. “Dolly loved the recording,” Salley confirmed to PEOPLE.

Dolly Parton, Jerry Salley and Gospel

While Salley is most well-known for his songs that made it to country music radio, his work in gospel music has defined his career. With songs recorded by Toby Keith, Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn, and more, that is a bold, but true statement. With six Dova Award nominations and won a 1990 Dove Award, Salley does gospel right.

In American music, gospel music is so tightly intertwined with so many other genres. Many gospel songs are also American folk music or have been fused with other genres. Bluegrass and country music go with gospel music like peanut butter and jelly. It is no surprise that many of country music’s best performers have cut gospel records and sometimes even full records.

Having Dolly Parton on the album is a new height for Salley, however. The songwriter called it, “one of the greatest opportunities of my career,” to produce the song. He realizes it wouldn’t have been possible without Dolly’s blessing of course. “I will forever be grateful to Dolly for trusting me and allowing me to work with her on this project,” Salley added.