Country music icon Dolly Parton’s mother, Avie Lee Owens Parton, is often considered her famous daughter’s very first musical influence. The South Carolina native married Robert Lee Parton in 1939, and raised 12 children, six boys and six girls (Willadeene, David, Coy, Dolly, Bobby, Stella, Cassie, Randel, Larry, Estel, Freida, and Rachel) in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Avie Lee was extremely resourceful and supported her financially struggling family in everything she did, from canning food to caring for their medical and emotional needs. Although she passed away in 2003 at the age of 80, her love of family was immortalized in Dolly’s song, “Coat of Many Colors” and her first-ever childhood song “Little Tiny Tasseltop.” Both tunes tell the story behind Avie Lee’s lovingly handmade gifts— a patchwork coat made from scraps of fabric and a corncob doll with corn silk hair.
Through her humble gifts, she taught Dolly an important lesson in seeing the real value of your blessings, no matter now small. This lesson would become a major part of Dolly’s life philosophy. In her book, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business,” Parton recalls what happened after “Coat of Many Colors” made her a major success:
Enjoy Dolly performing “Coat of Many Colors” on The Voice in 2015 below!
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