Dolly Parton shares personal 'HeartSong' with fans

How does Dolly Parton celebrate the progress of a massive new project at her Pigeon Forge theme park Dollywood?

She sings about it, of course.

"That song is a mile long, and I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to have to cut a verse out.’ So, I picked the two verses I thought would be the best. But it’s appropriate to have a song called ‘Heartsong,'" Parton says.

The country music icon recently sang a shortened version of her 1994 song "Heartsong" at a press event for HeartSong Lodge and Resort, the 302-room resort which is slated to open in 2023. After speaking to the crowd and performing the song, the Grammy-winner sat down with Good Day Atlanta for an Atlanta exclusive interview about the project, which she calls an extension of her love for the Great Smoky Mountains. 

"It’s really back in the woods, and … you know, we’re kind of surrounded by that," Parton says. "And we kind of use the term of ‘bringing the outdoors in, and indoors out,’ so it’s really like you really feel like you’re in the woods, even when you’re inside. You feel like you’re kind of in the mountains."

The five-story resort will also feature 26,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, which the singer says will benefit the local economy.

"It’s really like a conference hotel, although we’re not calling it that, but they were telling me today that we could actually feed 1,000 people. Some of the rooms are big enough and tables are big enough where we actually could [host] a conference," she said.

And if anyone knows how to welcome crowds that big, it’s the team at Dollywood. The theme park draws more than 3 million visitors per year, and recently climbed to the top of the charts, named as the top theme park in America by TripAdvisor.

"How wonderful was that? We were all so excited, we were jumping for joy on that," Parton said. "But it goes back to what I always say about the wonderful people here. All the hosts and all the people. And our president, Eugene Naughton, he’s just done such a wonderful job making the park even greater than what it’s been. We’ve always had wonderful people, but he’s doing an exceptional job."

While at Dollywood, we also got a chance to tour the new Suite 1986 at the DreamMore Resort & Spa, formerly the singer’s tour bus and now an overnight lodging experience available to fans for a two-night minimum starting at $10,000. 

"It’s gonna cost you," laughs the legendary entertainer, clarifying that the experience benefits the Dollywood Foundation, which operates Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The bus is staged exactly as the singer left it, and includes a small bathtub, full-sized refrigerator, and even a wig cabinet. 

"We just thought it would be great to retire the bus here, and let it make money for the Imagination Library. And it's going to be fun for the people who stay there, I think," Parton says.

To hear more from the legendary performer, click the video players in this article.