9 to 5: Dolly Parton isn't slowing down

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording

Dolly Parton may have twice turned down Donald Trump's Presidential Medal of Freedom, but the ageless queen of country has multiple irons in the fire including an ad appearance during Sunday's Super Bowl.

The pop culture icon who penned megahits like I Will Always Love You and workingwoman call to arms 9 to 5 now says she remains unsure whether she would accept the highest civilian honour from the nation's new President Joe Biden because it would appear too political.

"I couldn't accept it (from Trump) because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn't travel because of the Covid," Parton, who donated to the development of one of the main coronavirus vaccines, explained in an interview with NBC that aired Tuesday.

She revealed that she has heard from Biden about the award too. "Now I feel like if I take it, I'll be doing politics, so I'm not sure," she said.

As for the possible presidential medal, "I don't work for those awards," the self-effacing Parton said.

"It'd be nice but I'm not sure that I even deserve it," she added. "But it's a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it."

Trump gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to one musician, Elvis Presley. Late in his term he controversially bestowed the award on two members of Congress loyal to the president through his two impeachments.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick turned down the medal last month following the US Capitol riot on 6 January.

Former president Barack Obama gave the medal to several music legends including Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan, but in November he said it was "a mistake" not to award Parton.

"I think I assumed that she'd already got one and that was incorrect," Obama told the CBS Late Show. "I'm surprised, she deserves one."

Longtime philanthropist 

Parton, at 75, has remained relentlessly busy.

She is up for a Grammy Award - her 50th nomination - in March and wrote music for the 2018 Netflix coming-of-age movie Dumplin'. She is the subject of a popular podcast, and is hawking a new perfume.

Parton just cut a digital-age version of her classic 9 to 5, the track from her 1980 blockbuster film of the same name, to feature in her first ad during an American football championship game.

In the spot by website hosting company Squarespace, Parton reimagines her feminist anthem as 5 to 9, a nod to the side hustle culture so many people have embraced in the new millennium.

"This was a wonderful way to bring back that song, add new words and talk about what these new people are doing," she told NBC.

The Tennessee native who grew up poor is a longtime philanthropist, an ally to the marginalised.

Last year she gave $1 million (R14.9 million) to Vanderbilt University which helped develop Moderna's coronavirus vaccine. And her literacy program has donated some 100 million books to needy kids worldwide.

When she turned 75, on 19 January, she offered an uplifting message to her five million Twitter followers: "This year my birthday wish is a call for kindness."

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