Why Dolly Parton May Not Be Able To Reject Her Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nomination
“Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful... I don’t feel that I have earned that right.”
Dolly Parton has reached a new level of humble. Since her 1967 debut, the singer-songwriter has released more than 50 albums, which have sold over 100 million copies and spawned classic hits like “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” — reportedly written in the same 1972 studio session, by the way. The legendary musician is cited as an influence by artists spanning pop, R&B, country, and rock genres. Kelly Clarkson, Whitney Houston, Kacey Musgraves, Kesha, and her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, are just a few of her biggest fans. Parton’s undeniable impact earned her a nomination to be one of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2022 inductees, but the iconic performer has shockingly (and, of course, politely) rejected the honor.
“Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right,” Parton wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on March 14. “I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”
“I do hope that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again - if I’m ever worthy,” the musician continued before revealing her catalog’s lack of a formal rock record as the reason she’s turning down the nomination. “This has, however, inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’ roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do! My husband is a total rock ‘n’ roll freak, and has always encouraged me to do one.”
“I wish all of the nominees good luck and thank you again for the compliment,” Parton’s note concluded. “Rock on!”
However, Parton’s self-withdrawal may not be enough to rescind her nomination. In a statement released by The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on March 17, the organization claimed a ballot featuring the country icon’s name was already sent out to voters prior to her open letter. “All of us in the music community have seen Dolly Parton’s thoughtful note expressing her feeling that she has not earned the right to be inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” the post began, via Twitter. “In addition to her incredible talent as an artist, her humility is another reason Dolly is a beloved icon by millions of fans around the world.”
The Rock Hall explained rock ‘n’ roll is historically connected to R&B and country music and represents “a sound that moves youth culture” rather than a genre classification. “Dolly Parton’s music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless artists that followed,” the statement continued. “Her nomination to be considered for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame followed the same process as all other artists who have been considered.”
“Dolly’s nomination, along with the other 16 for the class of 2022 was sent out earlier this month to our 1,200 general ballot voters, the majority of whom are artists themselves, for consideration for induction at our ceremony,” the institution detailed. “We are in awe of Dolly’s brilliant talent and pioneering spirit and are proud to have nominated her for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
As expressed in the statement, the Rock Hall certainly places a heavy focus on music created within the rock genre, but potential inductees are considered across all genres after contributing “over 25 years of musical excellence,” according to the institution’s website. Performers featured in the Cleveland museum include rock bands The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Aerosmith, pop acts Madonna, ABBA, and Janet Jackson, and rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z.
Parton was announced as a 2022 Rock Hall nominee on Feb. 2 alongside Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, A Tribe Called Quest, Duran Duran, Beck, and other performers. The same day, Rock Hall Foundation Chairman John Sykes stated in a press release, per NPR, “This year's ballot recognizes a diverse group of incredible artists, each who has had a profound impact on the sound of youth culture.”
This isn’t the first time Parton’s been honored with such a prestigious accolade, as she’s previously been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She also holds two entries in the Grammy Hall of Fame for “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene.”
Parton’s 2022 Rock Hall nomination was met with praise from publications including Rolling Stone and fans alike, but she was wary of joining the institution from the jump. In a Feb. 11 interview with Billboard, the musician said she was “absolutely floored” when she learned of the nomination. “I’ve never thought of myself as being rock and roll in any sense of the word — but I guess they judge it on the music and the influence certain songs have had,” Parton said. “I guess I’ve had songs with other people in that realm. But I don’t know how they judge that.”
While she didn’t bow out of the nomination immediately, Parton also told Billboard she’d want to make a rock album and truly earn her spot in the Rock Hall. “I’m not expecting that I’ll get in. But if I do, I’ll immediately, next year, have to put out a great rock and roll album — which I’ve wanted to do for years, like a Linda Ronstadt or Heart kind of thing,” detailed the performer. “So this may have been just a God-wink for me to go ahead and do that. It’s just nice to be nominated.”
Ironically enough, Parton’s already released two albums with Ronstadt: 1987’s Trio and 1999’s Trio II. Also recorded in collaboration with Emmylou Harris, both records were technically labeled country projects, so it’s understandable for Parton not to consider them contributions to the rock genre.
Given that Parton’s latest album, 2022’s Run, Rose Run, is a companion record to her first-ever novel of the same name authored alongside James Patterson, it shouldn’t surprise fans that she’s still looking to accomplish “firsts” in her career. Whether or not she’s inducted in 2022, let’s hope Parton’s rock album comes to fruition soon, so she can comfortably claim her much-deserved spot in the Rock Hall.
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