2023 marks 50 years since country icon Dolly Parton wrote and recorded her monumental hit “I Will Always Love You,” a song that has forever cemented her legacy as songwriter extraordinaire.
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In honor of the tune’s milestone year, Dollywood is holding an I Will Always Love You Celebration. The festivities are set to kick off with the 2023 park season on March 11 and the celebration will come to a close on April 8.
“This celebration honors the iconic moment in music history with special performances, intimate songwriting showcases, shimmering park décor, unique photo opportunities, and more,” read Dollywood’s social media post about the forthcoming festivities.
Each Saturday throughout the month-long I Will Always Love You Celebration, Dollywood will host a special lineup of performances. The Celebrity Concert Series will welcome Natalie Grant on March 11; Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder on March 18; Jo Dee Messina on March 25; Larry, Steve & Rudy: The Gatlin Brothers on April 1; and Lauren Alaina on April 8.
A songwriting showcase will also be a part of the celebration. Park guests will be able to hear from the writers behind some of country music’s biggest hits. Dana Black, who penned George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” and “Write this Down;” Billy Montana, the pen behind Sara Evans’ “Suds in the Bucket;” Steve Dean of Reba McEntire’s “Walk On,” and many more will be included in the Showstreet Songwriter’s Showcase.
Throughout Dollywood, dazzling décor will take the I Will Always Love You Celebration up a notch. The unique event will be just as one-of-a-kind as Parton’s song craft.
Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” to ease the pain of leaving her duet partner Porter Wagoner to embark on what would become an incredibly illustrious solo career.
“It’s saying, ‘Just because I’m going don’t mean I won’t love you,’” Parton shared in an interview with CMT. “’I appreciate you and I hope you do great and I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m out of here.’ And I took it in the next morning. I said, ‘Sit down, Porter. I’ve written this song, and I want you to hear it.’… And he was crying. He said, ‘That’s the prettiest song I ever heard. And you can go, providing I get to produce that record.’ And he did.”
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame