It’s been several years since Dolly Parton lost her mother, but the time hasn’t lessened the singer’s appreciation for her. Avie Lee Owens Parton passed away in 2003 at the age of 80. She raised 12 children, one of whom she encouraged to pursue music. You may know that Dolly Parton’s hit song “Coat of Many Colors” was inspired by Avie Lee Owen Parton’s ingenuity and care.
On Mother’s Day this year, Dolly Parton wanted to express the gratitude she feels for her mother by writing a special song capturing the sacrificial love mothers show their children on a daily basis.
“I always say that having a wonderful mom is one of the greatest gifts that God can bestow on any of us,” Parton says in a video she posted to her social media accounts on Sunday, May 10th.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there. I miss my mama so much 💕 pic.twitter.com/SscC35Y4XS
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) May 10, 2020
The song describes a mother cooking, cleaning, and sewing for her family. “The one who never sleeps ‘til all’s in bed / The one that never eats ‘til all are fed,” Dolly sings. And while the song represents memories Dolly has of her own mother taking care of her as a child, the country music legend says she wrote it thinking it “might fit everybody’s mama.”
Dolly Parton’s mother played a role in developing the singer’s love for songwriting and singing. An article on DollyParton.com describes the very first song Dolly ever wrote:
“Little Tiny Tasseltop” was composed by a young Dolly even before she could read or write. The song was inspired by a corncob doll, with corn silk hair, that Avie Lee handcrafted for little Dolly. As she played with her precious doll on the front porch, she began singing. Avie Lee quickly wrote down the lyrics to what would become Dolly’s very first song.
Avie Lee Owens’ father was a preacher, which might explain Dolly’s affinity for Christianity and faith. On Easter Sunday, Dolly shared an encouraging message about the fact that we may not be able to go to church this year, but we can still worship God from our houses. Dolly shared that despite the rough time we’re going through this year, we should think about the “rough week that Jesus had, and look how well that turned out for us.”
While Dolly Parton has sung many a gospel song on her records and in her concerts over the years, recently she’s been teaming up with contemporary Christian artists to collaborate on songs. When Luke and Joel Smallbone of For King & Country approached Parton to ask her to sing on a remake of their song “God Only Knows,” the country music star said yes right away. Apparently, she had been looking for more faith-based projects to work on. Parton told the Tennessean the request felt like “it fell from the sky” and that she was “blessed” to work on the song with the Smallbone brothers. Luke Smallbone said Dolly’s voice contains an authenticity few other singers possess. “I think about all she has experienced as a woman in the entertainment world and the social changes. When she says, ‘God only knows,’ you feel it. You believe her.”
Since lending her voice to “God Only Knows”, she also joined Zach Williams to sing “There Was Jesus,” a song about the fact that God never leaves us or forsakes us.