Beginning her career as a child performer, Parton issued a few modestly successful singles from 1959 through the mid-1960s, showcasing her distinctive soprano voice. She came to greater prominence in 1967 as a featured performer on singer Porter Wagoner's weekly television program; their first duet single, a cover of Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind", was a top-ten hit on the country singles charts, and led to several successful albums before they ended their partnership in 1974. Moving towards mainstream pop music, Parton's 1977 single "Here You Come Again" was a success on both the country and pop charts. A string of pop-country hits followed into the mid-1980s, the most successful being her 1981 hit "9 to 5" (from the film of the same name), and her 1983 duet with Kenny Rogers "Islands in the Stream", both of which topped the U.S. pop and country singles charts. A pair of albums recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris were among her later successes. In the late 1990s, Parton returned to classic country/bluegrass with a series of acclaimed recordings.
Non-musical ventures include the creation of Dollywood, a theme park in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and her efforts on behalf of childhood literacy, particularly her Imagination Library, as well as Dixie Stampede and Pirates Voyage.
Dolly is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach number 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100 million records worldwide. She has garnered 8 Grammy Awards, 2 Academy Award nominations, 10 Country Music Association Awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award. In 1999, Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has composed over 3,000 songs, the best known of which include "I Will Always Love You" (a two-time U.S. country chart-topper for Parton, as well as an international pop hit for Whitney Houston), "Jolene", "Coat of Many Colors","9 to 5", and "My Tennessee Mountain Home"
As an actress, she starred in the movies 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Steel Magnolias, Wild Texas Wind, Gnomeo & Juliet, Straight Talk, Unlikely Angel, Blue Valley Songbird, Joyful Noise.