Country superstar Carrie Underwood recently opened up and shared some heartfelt thoughts on country music legend Dolly Parton.
As part of BMI’s celebration of its annual Country Awards, the music organization produced a series titled “Songteller to Songteller.” BMI created a virtual salute in honor of Parton and her legacy. Seven current musicians spoke extensively about how she inspired them, including talking about their favorite Parton songs.
BMI held discussions with Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown, and more about Parton. During Underwood’s discussion, the singer got emotional when touching on Parton’s legacy, and said that it’s far bigger than just her music.
“Obviously music is part of her legacy. But, I think her true legacy is how she has made the world better,” Underwood explains. “She could’ve just been Dolly Parton and taken her money and just lived for herself. But she was given gifts by God, and she takes them, she does the work, she uses them to glorify God, and she gives back. She cares about people. That’s her true legacy.”
The country singer said that she always felt a connection to Parton because of the way each of them grew up. Similar to Parton, Underwood didn’t have much to do growing up and had to rely on her imagination.
“I feel like I had even more of a connection with her when she talks about growing up and not having a lot to do and just having to rely on her imagination,” Underwood said. “That was very me. I just had me and what’s in here. I wish I’d spent that time writing like Dolly did.”
Carrie Underwood on Parton’s Songwriting
When pressed to pick a song, Underwood had trouble selecting only one. However, she said if she had to pick, she’d go with Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You.”
“It is so simple. It’s straight to the point,” she says of Parton’s song. “She’s not sugarcoating it or trying to be too clever about anything. It’s the perfect thing to say and it gets right to it.”
The country star thinks that the music industry is very different today compared to when Parton first hit the scene. Underwood says modern country artists are pressured to write songs that will cater to radio success. Additionally, she says there are certain formulas one can follow to achieve that, which is different from Parton’s successful writing.
“I feel like she never had a formula. Just her heart. And people hear that and they get that. That’s really what it should be all about,” Underwood explained.
Underwood says that Parton has been a huge influence on her career. The singer admits that she and every other country artist are “all just trying to be Dolly.” She says that with no Dolly Parton, many of the country artists we know and love today would not be around.
“And as far as her influencing my career: we’re all just trying to be Dolly, let’s be honest. She is somebody who has set an incredible example for us and paved such a path for us. If there was no Dolly, there would be no us,” Underwood admitted.
You can watch Underwood’s full “Songteller to Songteller” interview below, along with Parton’s response afterward.