As if her efforts to invest in COVID-19 vaccines or help to promote literacy for children weren’t enough, it appears that country music legend Dolly Parton is also a staunch supporter of efforts to help build up the Black community — especially in the home of country music, Nashville, Tennessee.
NPR’s Joe Hernandez reported that Parton recently revealed “she used some of the royalties she earned from Whitney Houston’s cover of her song ‘I Will Always Love You’ to invest in an office complex in a Black neighborhood in Nashville.”
According to Hernandez, Parton said she believed the effort was an appropriate way to help honor Houston, whose remake of “I Will Always Love You” remains one of the most popular and best-selling songs of all time.
Parton said that she was looking for a place to build her Nashville headquarters and was thrilled when she found the location and knew her investment would help bring money and jobs into the area.
“It was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there. It was a whole strip mall. And I thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney,’” Parton said. “I just thought, ‘This was great. I’m going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well.’”
“I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built,'” Parton added.
Originally written by Parton in 1972, “I Will Always Love You” was re-recorded by Houston in 1992 for the soundtrack to the film The Bodyguard, in which she also starred alongside Kevin Costner. Forbes estimated that Houston’s cover helped Parton earn over $10 million in royalties in the 1990s alone.
Looking back on that period in her life, Parton also confirmed that one of the things she regrets most in life is never getting to perform a duet of the song with Houston.
“I would’ve loved that,” Parton said. “But I don’t think I could’ve come up to snuff with her though. She’d have outsung me on that one for sure.”