Dolly Parton is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “I Will Always Love You” with a special event at her theme park.
In 2023, one of Parton’s signature songs, “I Will Always Love You,” turns 50 years old and will be commemorated with the official “I Will Always Love You Celebration” taking place at Dollywood from March 11 through April 8. The month-long event, described as “commemorating the art of songwriting and the stories behind the songs,” kicks off Dollywood’s event season.
The celebration will also recognize Parton’s contributions as a songwriter, which have earned her “iconic status,” in addition to shining a spotlight on upcoming singer/songwriters who will perform at various locations in the park. The event will also spill over into special food items and decorations.
“I Will Always Love You” was written solely by Parton. She recorded the song in 1973 and released it a year later as a single. Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” as a goodbye message to her then-business partner, Porter Wagoner. She got her start as a young singer on his TV show, The Porter Wagoner Show, which launched their career as a duo before Parton embarked on her solo career in 1973. Parton’s version of “I Will Always Love You” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1974.
The song was taken to global heights when Whitney Houston recorded it for the soundtrack for the film, The Bodyguard, which received critical acclaim and is the biggest-selling single by a female artist. Houston’s version was named Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female at the 1994 Grammy Awards. Parton has also given her approval of Houston’s interpretation over the years.
“My heart just started to beat so fast and then when she got into ‘I Will Always Love You,’ when that opened up, and I realized that was my song, it was the most overwhelming thing,” she shared with Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Conversation in 2020. “I could not believe how she did that. How beautiful it was that my little song had turned into that, so that was a major, major thing.”
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic