Considering she’s one of the most prolific recording artists in music history, it almost comes as a shock that, 50 years into her career, Dolly Parton doesn’t yet have a children’s record under her belt. That changes this fall with the release of I Believe in You, the singer’s 44th LP and first dedicated children’s record.
“It just seemed like it was the time [to make this record],” Parton, who said she’s always written children’s songs, told press at a Nashville event announcing the album on Tuesday, joking: “Since I’m getting so old, I’m going back into my second childhood.”
Playing more to a few dozen kids assembled than the press, and singing along with the album recordings as a backing track in lieu of a live band, Dolly performed three songs from I Believe. They included the confidence-building “9 to 5”-style title track, the marching-beat-boasting “Brave Little Soldier,” and “Makin’ Fun Ain’t Funny,” an upbeat number with a timely anti-bullying message.
The indomitably ebullient 71-year-old county icon also, like a kindergarten teacher conducting story time for kids, read from last year’s Coat of Many Colors children’s book, inspired by her 1971 hit of the same name. A new recording of the song appears on I Believe in You.
“These kids, I hope they’ll be fans, because a lot of them, their parents liked me, and they became their grandparents and introduced me to them,” Parton said of singing for yet another new generation. “I think kids can kind of relate to me, like a Mother Goose character.”
Parton wrote all 14 tracks on children’s record – due September 29th digitally, and October 13th in physical formats. All proceeds from its sales will go toward benefiting the singer’s Imagination Library program, which has donated 100 million books to children in need over the past 21 years. “It’s the giving back that’s [as] important to me as the gettin’,” Parton said.
And speaking of new generations, Parton also talked about collaborating with Kesha for a recreation of her 1980 hit “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” which appears as a duet on the “Tik Tok” singer’s recent comeback album Rainbow.
“I know [Kesha] because of her mother,” Parton said of Pebe Sebert, a Nashville songwriter who originally co-penned “Old Flames.” “It was one of my favorite songs that I ever did,” Parton continued, recalling how she jumped at Kesha’s invitation to re-cut the song with her. “I said, ‘Why did you choose to do that song? That’s an unusual choice for you.’ She said, ‘Well, because my mother wrote it.'”