Dolly Parton's career spans five decades. During that time, she has recorded more than 60 Country and bluegrass albums. Dolly's also composed thousands of songs, many drawn from her own life experiences. The inspiration for her latest release, For God And Country, came from recent world events, specifically the 2001 attacks on America and the war in Iraq.
Red, White and Bluegrass is one of seven tracks Dolly Parton wrote for her new collection of patriotic and inspirational songs. For God and Country also includes Dolly's arrangements of many traditional tunes.
Parton says she recorded For God and Country as a tribute to American military troops.
"We can't give them enough praise and honor and thanks," she says. "I've always wanted to do a patriotic album, and no time could be more perfect than these days. There's a lot of wonderful, uplifting songs in the album too, but a lot of them really touch on what we're going through now."
Dolly first recorded the uplifting Light Of A Clear Blue Morning for her 1977 album New Harvest, First Gathering. It appeared again on the soundtrack to her 1992 film, Straight Talk. She added an extended banjo ending to the newly-recorded version found on For God and Country.
Dolly also reached back to her gospel roots on the new collection. She offers an accapella version of Whispering Hope, and is joined by legendary gospel group The Fairfield Four on the traditional hymn Peace In The Valley.
Dolly wrote Color Me America, one of the album's tracks, the day after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. She says that, for most of her life, she's expressed her feelings by writing songs.
"I've been writing since I was a little bitty kid. I started playing the guitar and singing when I was about 7," she says. "So, everyday, that's just kind of how I express myself. I just kind of have a gift of rhyme, so stuff just starts coming out of my head. I think, 'why not put it down on paper. Some of it might be good.'"
At last count, Dolly's compositions exceeded 3,000 tunes. The seven-time Grammy winner's best known classics include I Will Always Love You, Jolene and Coat of Many Colors.
Reflecting on her long and successful career, Dolly says, "I didn't understand all the things that it involved, but I wanted to be loved and rich and famous. I wanted to travel. So, I really wanted all the things that are happening to me now. But, the older I get, the more I realize how fortunate and lucky I've really been. It was a childhood dream come true and I don't take any of it for granted. It's my joy as well as my job."
In March, Dolly will begin a U.S. concert tour to promote For God and Country. One of the most emotional songs on the album is its first single, Welcome Home.