The charismatic singer-songwriter, country music legend, and actor is also a nearly lifelong philanthropist: Over the past four-plus decades, through her Dollywood Foundation and other charitable giving, she’s supported childhood literacy, college scholarships, wildlife preservation, and wildfire recovery in her home state of Tennessee. Parton has also helped fund local hospitals—and it was through that giving that she became a leader in the COVID fight.
In April 2020, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which steered her funds toward the development of the Moderna vaccine. Parton then shared a video of herself on social media receiving a jab, earning praise from health care leaders and her adoring fan base—including those in rural communities where public health authorities had been struggling to make headway against vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. This wasn’t your typical inoculation—Dolly also sang the chorus of her 1974 hit “Jolene,” modified with a coronavirus twist.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate,
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, ’cause once you’re dead then that’s a bit too late.