Singer Dolly Parton honoured in pre-Grammy Awards gala

Singer Dolly Parton blowing a kiss after performing at the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles on Feb 8, 2019.
Singer Dolly Parton blowing a kiss after performing at the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles on Feb 8, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Dolly Parton is not afraid to get something off her chest.

"All of my life, I have been known for two things. Well, not them," the well-endowed singer joked in a bawdy acceptance speech after becoming the first country artist to receive the MusiCares Person of the Year award.

"I've also been known as a singer and songwriter too," she added at the event in the run-up to the Grammy Awards (Feb 11 morning, Singapore time).

In an evening of all-star musical performances in Los Angeles on Friday (Feb 8) to honour Parton for her music and philanthropy, the eight-time Grammy winner got the biggest laughs at the 29th annual gala for MusiCares, which helps members of the industry in need.

Parton, whose career began with appearances at age 10 on radio stations in her native Tennessee, began her speech with a joke that made light of her backcountry roots.

"Of course, you know we hillbillies need MusiCares too," she said. "We may not have sex, drugs and rock 'n'roll, but two out of three ain't bad."

Parton, 73, also appeared to touch on some of the concerns of the #MeToo movement and sexual misconduct in entertainment when she described entering the music business when it was a "man's world".

"Buddy, I had a ball," she said to more laughs. "Because I have actually worked with so many wonderful men and I've never met a man whom I didn't like and I've never met a man whose ass I couldn't kick if he didn't treat me with the right respect."

To gasps and laughs, Parton then described her feelings at seeing the likes of Willie Nelson, Katy Perry, Mavis Staples and Garth Brooks perform her songs at the gala.

"Watching them is sort of like watching porn," she said. "You're not personally involved, but you still get off on it. At my age, you take anything you can get," she cracked.

Parton has sold more than 100 million records and helped popularise country music outside the United States, often succeeding in crossing over into pop music.

Her charity work owes much to her admiration for her father, who laboured in tobacco fields and construction sites and could not read.

The Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, founded in 1995, has mailed more than 100 million books to children in the US and other countries.

Parton will also be honoured with another tribute at the Grammy Awards. For the second consecutive year, black hip-hop artists are leading the pack but observers are still wondering if nomination success can translate into wins.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar - who won a Pulitzer Prize for his album Damn. but has yet to snare a Grammy for Album of the Year - earned eight nods while Canadian rapper Drake snagged seven.

Women artists scored nominations in all the top categories, after being largely muted a year ago. Rapper Cardi B, pop diva Lady Gaga, pop futurist Janelle Monae and folk rocker Brandi Carlile are among the front runners.