Dolly Parton turns down memorial statue in Tennessee, saying she doesn’t want to be ‘put on a pedestal’

Lawmakers introduced a bill last month to honour the country singer’s contributions to the state

Dolly doesn't need a statue just yet: the country music legend and life-long philanthropist told Tennessee lawmakers looking to put a memorial to her in the Nashville Capitol: “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time” Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

While the row over what to do with out-of-date colonial- and confederal-era statues rumbles on, the country music legend Dolly Parton has emerged, unsurprisingly, as a voice of humility and reason when it comes to her own legacy.

In a statement released on Twitter earlier today, Parton asked Tennessee lawmakers to withdraw a bill that would see a statue of her erected on the capitol grounds in Nashville.

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time,” Parton says.

The bill was introduced last month by John Mark Windle, a Democratic state representative, to honour “all that [Parton] has contributed to this state”. Speaking in support of the statue, Windle says: “At this point in history, is there a better example, not just in America but in the world, of a leader that is [a] kind, decent, passionate human being? [She’s] a passionate person who loves everyone, and everyone loves her.”

Parton, who turned 75 this January, is a lifelong philanthropist, particularly in the field of child literacy. Her advocacy for the Black Lives Matter movement was recently celebrated in a mural in Nashville, while, last year, she donated $1m to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which helped fund research crucial to developing Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.

In her statement, Parton thanked the legislature for their consideration of the bill and said she was “honoured and humbled by their intention”.

She added: “I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.”

Earlier this month, the singer-songwriter also revealed she turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the Trump administration twice.