I saw a star at the Cedar Park Center Friday night, and it had nothing to do with Texas hockey. Accompanied by seven musicians and three backup singers, a rhinestone-studded Dolly Parton took center stage all night, charming the audience with her talent and larger than life personality. The music legend had people on their feet, singing along with hit songs including “Two Doors Down” and “9 to 5.” Dolly didn’t miss a note all night and despite her tiny stature, that lady sure isn’t short on talent. I lost count at one point, but I think she played a total of 10 instruments during the show.
In her first set, she kicked things off with a rendition of “Walking on Sunshine” mixed with “Shine Like the Sun” off her new CD, Better Day. She also sang “Jolene” and “Coat of Many Colors,” and told some heartfelt stories about her humble upbringing and how her parents’ love and strong faith inspired her to want to dream big.
In addition to her own hits, Dolly sang some cover tunes she’s recorded over the years including “Stairway to Heaven,” “River Deep, Mountain High” (she can sure shimmy for a 65 year old!) and a bluegrass version of The Beatles' song “Help!” She told the crowd she loves to sing other peoples’ songs, saying, “As a songwriter, I don’t care who sings my songs or how bad they screw them up. Look at what Whitney Houston did to my song. I still cry about that one every time I go to the bank.” Later in the show, she said, “I will always love Whitney Houston and I will always love you,” before breaking into a song that helped define her career.
Dolly has had such a long successful career, it took two sets to just cover the highlights. After going to get more beer from the concession stands, fans came back after a 20 minute intermission, ready to go. Dolly saved some of the best for last with “Here You Come Again,” “Islands in the Stream” and “9 to 5.” Though I love all of those songs, one of my favorite moments in the concert was when Dolly rapped a little ditty she wrote about herself and Queen Latifah, her costar in a new movie coming out in January called Joyful Noise. The platinum blond showed there’s nothing musical she can’t do. At the end of the rap, she said, “You know when you mix country with rap, you get crap.” There was nothing crap about it. It was just a whole lot of fun.
Dolly embodies everything an entertainer should be. Talented. Creative. Confident, yet humble. Funny—very funny. Dolly told the audience she’s been asked what she wants people to say about her in a hundred years. Her response? “Man, you look good for your age!” She also said she is often asked if “they” are real. “No. They're acrylic...” she says with her signature giggle. “I could never grow my own nails this long.”
I have seen several legendary entertainers this year: Cher, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli…all are great entertainers in their own right, but none brought life and energy to the stage like Dolly Parton did in Cedar Park. A lady in the front row held up a sign saying seeing Dolly Parton in concert was one of the items on her bucket list. Well she and I both got to cross one off our lists last night.