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Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton once said, "I'm not offended by all the dumb-blond jokes because I know I'm not dumb...and I also know that I'm not blond." There's only one problem with that statement: Anyone who makes a dumb-blond joke about Dolly Parton (regardless of her real hair color) just isn't paying enough attention. The beloved daughter of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has such a razor-sharp wit and vivacious personality — and, okay, certain other assets — that the fact that she is one of the best songwriters, period, in country music history is, amazingly, sometimes overlooked. Her long list of credits only starts with "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," "Joshua" "Here You Come Again" and "I Will Always Love You." Parton's latest album, the brand-new Better Day (Dolly Records/Warner Bros.), has more of a pop sheen than her masterful bluegrass albums of a few years ago (Little Sparrow, Halos & Horns), but as Dolly herself testifies on "Country Is As Country Does," it's still country to the bone. So is she. An audience with the Backwoods Barbie is not to be missed; this is already on the short list for possible Best Shows of 2011.

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