Forget the blue states and the red states. On the American musical map, Dolly Parton creates a lovely shade of purple. From hip urban rockers to rural country fans, NASCAR dads to soccer moms, there isn't a demographic that doesn't show some love for the amazing Ms. Parton.
She's an icon, a singer, songwriter, movie star, theme park entrepreneur and philanthropist who has created an extensive and eclectic body of work during her career of 40-plus years. And she's done it with warmth, a sense of humor and purpose, and a personal style that finds authenticity in delicious, good-natured excess.
The beloved superstar is coming to the Patriot Center this weekend, having embarked on her most extensive concert tour in 20 years, dubbed "Hello, I'm Dolly," in which she promises to revisit material from every facet of her song catalog.
That means a tasty sampler ranging from the Appalachian songs that first brought her to stardom, radio pop hits from the '70s and '80s, songs from recent albums such as "Little Sparrow" and "The Grass Is Blue," and brand-new material from a forthcoming CD, "Blue Smoke." Adding to the retrospective fun, the tour, which opened last month, uses large video screens to highlight images of Parton throughout her career.
According to press materials, this career-spanning event grew out of Parton's last tour, in 2002, which concentrated on the small-club circuit, supporting the bluegrass album "Halos & Horns." The three-month jaunt reminded Parton "how much I missed the road and how much the fans seemed to have missed me. . . . Some liked the country, some liked the pop, some liked the big production, some loved the bluegrass and the more simple sound. So I decided to combine all the things that I've done through the years."
Considering the wealth of material in Parton's original songbook and her history of covering writers with diverse musical styles (her 1996 CD "Treasures" offered 11 tracks by such contemporary songwriters as Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Kris Kristofferson), there will probably be some surprises, but it's okay to count on hearing such hits as "I Will Always Love You," "9 to 5," "Islands in the Stream" and "Jolene," among others. Said Parton, "The show itself has every color of me in it, from gospel to bluegrass to country to the bigger production numbers, and to the pop hits that I've been fortunate to do through the years. I think there will be something for everybody."
Yep, Dolly Parton's a uniter, not a divider.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The Patriot Center is at 4500 Patriot Cir. at GMU, off Braddock Road west of the Beltway. Ticket prices range from $36 to $55, parking included, and are available online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 703-573-SEAT. The Patriot Center's Web site, www.patriotcenter.com, offers further details and directions.
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