Dolly Parton's America
In this intensely divided moment, one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question leads to a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons. Join us for a 9-episode journey into the Dollyverse. Hosted by Jad Abumrad. Produced and reported by Shima Oliaee. Dolly Parton’s America is a production from OSM Audio and WNYC Studios.
Meredith Holmgren • Project Muse • Nov 13, 2020
"Early episodes of Dolly Parton’s America provide compelling context to her work as a groundbreaker in the commercial country music industry, particularly as an artist who centers women’s stories and experiences. But Dolly Parton’s America is not just a podcast about career highlights. A significant through-line is the examination of popular perceptions of the artist by mainstream audiences and how these have evolved over time. We also learn quite a bit about the host, Jad Abumrad, who brings both personal and professional storytelling to the podcast, occasionally drawing upon childhood memories and familial connections to drive certain storylines. At one point, he does a deep dive into his own family’s Lebanese roots, reflecting on what Dolly’s work symbolized to their immigration experience in America. Although the series is, on the whole, very entertaining and enjoyable to listen to, there are aspects that leave something to be desired. "
Mark Gorman • Mark Gorman Blog • Jun 25, 2020
"Dolly Parton, sorry Saint Dolly Parton, is such an American dream and institution that it’s about time a tribute as glorious as this was created, whilst she’s still alive, fighting fit and full of vim and vigour. This is uplifting entertainment with a serious undertow. I highly recommend losing 8 or more hours in Dolly Parton’s America."
Gwen Ihnat • AV Club • Apr 25, 2020
"I was never much of a big podcast person pre-pandemic, so I’ve really enjoyed the audio worlds my friends have suggested, like Sporkful, My Favorite Murder, and Mobituaries. But no podcast has rocked my world this month like the stellar 2019 release Dolly Parton’s America. Throughout the series, Parton is referred to as the Dolly Lama or Saint Dolly, monikers that seem entirely appropriate after you listen. I was never much of a big podcast person pre-pandemic, so I’ve really enjoyed the audio worlds my friends have suggested, like Sporkful, My Favorite Murder, and Mobituaries. But no podcast has rocked my world this month like the stellar 2019 release Dolly Parton’s America. Overall, it’s an amazing deep dive into the life of an extraordinary person, but it’s the lessons from Dolly Parton’s career that are sticking with me most. She’s an amazing example of the impact one life can have, and during a time when most of us are starved for inspiration, Dolly Parton’s America can make for a much-needed, soul-soothing listen."
Tess Roundy • KUTE Radio • Apr 2, 2020
"Perhaps my favorite part in this series is in the final episode when she tells the story about how she found God as a 12 year old in an abandoned church. I love this part because it describes Dolly Parton’s essence perfectly. Before hearing this, her voice in the podcast, her music, and her image were things I couldn’t contrive into one person. This story of the old abandoned church where she’d sing and play the piano and admire spray painted boobs made sense to me. The storytelling, editing, mixing, and music are remarkable throughout. The fact he recorded Dolly Parton telling her story is reason enough to binge all nine episodes. If you enjoy Dolly Parton, incredible journalism, and/or podcasts you’ll fall in love with Dolly Parton’s America. So much that you may feel inclined to create an award just to publicly reward this podcast."
Jackson Nickolay • In All Things • Mar 25, 2020
"Dolly Parton’s America really has two storylines. These two narratives are woven together almost seamlessly, to the extent that it’s hard to distinguish between them at all. They feel like a singular experience, both narratives informing the other with very little dissonance. The range of topics that this podcast covers is impressive. This podcast does not shy away from some of the hard truths and tensions that have swirled around the life of Dolly Parton. A whole episode is dedicated to her time on the Porter Wagoner Show and the fallout that eventually came from her realizing she need to leave that unhealthy space. There’s just so much about this podcast that is worth your time as a listener. In a comparatively short 9 episodes they pack so much. There is great music throughout. There’s detailed behind-the-scenes looks at songs like Jolene and Light of a Clear Blue Morning, and fascinating connections that people around the globe have to Parton’s music. Dolly Parton’s America is well worth the listen. I hope you take the time to listen to it and enjoy the conversations that inevitably come out of having spent some time in the Dollyverse."
Lindsay Zoladz • New York Times • Dec 21, 2019
"Parton granted Abumrad quite a few sit-down interviews, and although seasoned Parton fans will find little of what she tells him to be new information, “Dolly Parton’s America” is a genial, compulsively listenable crash course in Parton’s lasting appeal. The meticulously reported podcast and the soapy Netflix series will satisfy their respective corners of the Dollyverse, but they’re unlikely to be consumed or enjoyed by the same demographic. Like so much Parton ephemera, they provide only partial glimpses of her vast allure — the monochromatic pieces that make up a coat of many colors."
Nic Dobija-Nootens • PodcastReview.org • Dec 2, 2019
"Of course, one of the most brilliant aspects of the show is how it deals with music. Podcasts on musicians don’t always take advantage of their subjects’ innate musicality. But fans of Abumrad’s intricate audio-editing techniques will be pleased with the way he remixes and stretches Parton’s songs to make his analyses more engaging. But Parton’s legacy hasn’t received the same scholastic treatment as other pop musicians’, so this podcast is a chance to establish a body of Parton-ology. The result is filled with surprise and, like Parton herself, hardly superficial."
Nicholas Quah • Vulture • Nov 25, 2019
"Even the podcast’s tagline plays into the lore surrounding the star, promoting itself as “the story of a legend at the crossroads of America’s culture wars.” But get past the hype, and what follows is a good example of how to conduct deeply personal journalistic work that retains both a level of compassion and criticism. Abmurad’s conversations with Parton reveal a deeper truth: the importance of reaching across cultures and generations to better understand each other, and perhaps even mend the fractured social and political moment we’re currently living through. He’s right. We could all stand to look beyond the surface more often."
PodcAsteroid • Podcasteroid • Nov 18, 2019
"The episodes have a lot going on. And for me that works. There are clips from the archives, interviews with Dolly and some of those closest to her, deep dives into the music and experiences that inspired her, and personal anecdotes from the host. This podcast has taken something I’ve appreciated from a far and sent me deep down the rabbit-hole. And I think that’s as good as it gets for this kind of output. Can You Sleep To It? You better not. How dare you."
Christopher Wynn • Dallas News • Nov 10, 2019
"One annoyance: The clips we hear of Parton’s songs are often chopped-up and augmented unnecessarily with electronica effects for atmospheric flair. If it sounds a lot like Radiolab, it comes honestly: Abumrad was that show’s creator."
Hannah J Davies • The Guardian • Oct 18, 2019
"This podcast is as much about Parton as it as about the nation. "