Nearly three hours after performances from a starry array including Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Don Henley and Vince Gill and Miley Cyrus and Shawn Mendes, Dolly Parton was officially christened the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year.
Surprising Parton at the ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center were her longtime “Trio” friends, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, making a rare public appearance since her Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2012.
But the lovefest for Parton started much earlier in the evening, when everyone from Pink (“I gotta fix my boobs,” she told her publicist with a grin before turning to face a wall of photographers) to Kacey Musgraves (getting a last-second touch-up from a makeup artist trailing her) to Katy Perry (who jokingly smooched a photographer after posing), flaunted their adoration of the legendary singer-songwriter-musician.
Parton, who joins an illustrious list of recipients including Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Elton John and last year’s honorees, Fleetwood Mac, was chosen in recognition of her creative accomplishments as well as her support of charitable causes.
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Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood – two of the last big names on the carpet because of their willingness to spend time with every reporter – spoke about Big Picture Parton.
“She’s so much more than an icon. I feel like everybody is here,” Yearwood said, holding her hand chest high, “and Dolly is up here. She’s a positive role model for men and women and for how to control your own business. She’s one of those women who can do it (all) without being called anything ugly. Sometimes if you really force your way, some of the words that are used aren’t that nice, but everybody loves Dolly.”
Added Brooks, “She’s the first one from Nashville that’s done MusiCares so that’s inspiring to men and women. She just kinda becomes the first on everything it seems…The Beatles have chord progressions nobody has touched yet. Dolly still has licks no one has touched yet.”
Jennifer Nettles echoed Yearwood’s comment about Parton’s multi-faceted career.
“Her art speaks for itself, as a businesswoman, as an actress, as a singer-songwriter, as a philanthropist. She checks so many boxes,” Nettles said (she also mentioned a new solo single coming Feb. 22, “I Can Do Hard Things,” though it doesn’t mean Sugarland is back on hiatus. “We’re constantly doing stuff,” she said. “I had this music and I wanted to be able to put it out.”
Parton’s goddaughter, Cyrus, hugged her beloved mentor on the red carpet, both giddy with excitement.
“Besides music, the thing (Dolly) loves most is giving back. And being able to be at MusiCares and bring those worlds together is the most Dolly thing you can do,” Cyrus said.
When asked how Parton influenced her early in her career, Cyrus shot back with a big smile, “She got me my first padded bra!”
While the Person of the Year Award garners the spotlight every year on Grammy Awards weekend, the mission of the organization - to aid in any financial, medical or personal health issues – shouldn’t be overlooked.
Scott Stapp, known for his tenure fronting Creed, publicly battled substance abuse and coped with the effects of bi-polarism.
The singer spoke of MusiCares with admiration and gratitude on the red carpet.
“A little over five years ago they came into my life. My struggles were very public and they came in and helped save my life. They provided the guidance and support for not only myself but my family,” Stapp said. “l’m almost five years sober. I have my wife and my kids and I still have music ahead of me. Without Musicares that wouldn’t have been possible. They provided somewhat of an intervention, helping to get me into a facility that I needed to get into to get cleaned up. After that followed me, gave support to my wife and gave us an education on what we were going through and knowing that it was a disease, but if I did my part, it could be treated and recovered from. You don’t have to be a big-time or big-name artist for MusiCares to give you the same level of support.”