Dolly Parton: A gift from MusicCares continues Netflix’s relationship with the celebrated singer and songwriter with this celebration of Parton’s life, music and legacy produced by Grammy. It is a wonderful performance, all of which are held in front of the music industry audience accompanied by an award or an accompanying band in the late evening.
Opening: “Now, let’s open our MusiCares honor to Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Shawn Mendes and Mark Ronson.” And the three walk to microphones placed on the edge of a stage that extends to a seated audience. Ronson takes a seat in the chair and raises his red Gibson Epiphone Hollowbody, while Cyrus and Mendes launch the introductory lines of “Islands In The Stream,” all subtly grooved.
Essence: Every year, MusiCares, a non-profit branch of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, awards honors for Person of the Year to a particular artist, and in 2019, Dolly Parton became the first artist from the country to receive that honor. This backing concert especially celebrates Parton’s career and irreplaceable song with performances from a vivid cross-section of her peers and fellow performers, including Cyrus (Parton’s Godmother), Mendes, Pink, Leon Bridges, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, Brandi Carples, Mavis , Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
That introductory number rides on the magnificent guitar ellipses from Ronson until Cyrus, nodding to Dolly who was sitting at the best table in the Los Angeles Convention Center, opens her voice to the end. From there, Little Big City appears as the host of the evening, and they stage the next performance, Nelson and Carlile, a duet in a wonderful version of Parton’s “Everything is Beautiful (in Its Own Way)”. Musgraves and Katy Perry then join forces on the 1977 hit “Here You Come Again,” and Norah Jones, appearing at the piano in his alt state configuration, while Puss n Boots along with Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper, gives a finely tuned stance. o the title track from “The Grass is Blue,” which awarded Parton the best album Bluegrass 2001. Grammy. The shows that Grammy people love to present their Grammy winners, and this evening produced by Grammys is no exception.
Elsewhere in this Parton panel, Stapleton amplifies the elemental honk tone in “9 to 5,” Stapleton and Bridges are joined on stage by a full evangelical choir, gospel legend Yolanda Adams offers a magnificent version of “I Will Always Love You” (high notes are the highlight) , and Harris and Ronstadt walk the memory strip as they reminisce about their work together. “We finally did together what all the singers were doing when they gathered in the living room,” Ronstadt tells the audience. “We sat on the floor and sang a song.” When Parton herself finally takes the stage, it’s for a speech full of her typical grace, home guard humor, sharp feminism, and charming stupidity.
What will it remind you of? Dolly Parton was pretty much speculating with Netflix. Biographical documentary from 2019 Dolly Parton: Here I am appears on the streamer, as it appears Dolly Parton heart string, Netflix’s original series that dramatized notable songs from Parton’s catalog, featuring Julianne Hough, Kathleen Turner, Gerald McRaney, Melissa Leo and Mac Davis.
Our approach: Unlike a music production or an award designed for television, Dolly Parton: A gift from MusicCares is an industrial event filmed for Netflix, something NARAS doesn’t always do with these sets. That event happened in 2019, a whole year before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19 or the pandemic, and as a sidebar for the Grammys that year. To this end, she occasionally reveals her vibes from the fair, even though the performers bring sincere gratitude to the guest of honor and respect for her lengthy catalog of materials. But since these performances are difficult, it’s easy enough to immerse yourself in them and enjoy how each artist turns the songs. Stapleton’s extensive “9 to 5” is remarkable, as are Perry and Musgraves having a ton of fun penetrating “Here You Come Again” and an interpretation of “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” a mandolin-inspired, harmony-rich Jennifer Nettles, Margo Price, and Cam.
Sex and skin: Miley Cyrus apologizes to her father, somewhere in the audience, because her skirt was too short. It happens in the middle of a song while she and Mendes sing “Islands In the Stream”.
Farewell: The evening ends with a silent performance of Dolly Parton’s 1968 hit “Coat of Many Colors,” with the acoustic guitar legend being followed by none other than Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes fame, whose miller play is still in effect.
Sleeping star: With her tool of open humor, youthful strength and excessive vocal strength, Miley Cyrus is ready and able to infuse this event into some dazzling brilliance. She was the first of many performers to smile and wave to Dolly in the middle of the song, and she introduced Perry by saying she knew how to wake up, bake and scream. “What’s happening?!“On top of her lungs.
Most trial line: “This next song was not only the title track of one of Dolly’s greatest hits, film roles, but it also earned her an Oscar nomination.” Phillip Sweet’s introduction to Little Big City “9 to 5” summarizes how much of Parton’s material entered the American sky.
Our call: STREAM IT. Everyone likes at least one jam from Dolly Parton, and this set includes a wealth of her greatest numbers ever. But it also takes time to explore her calmer work, oriented towards bluegrass, culminating in the convincing appearance of the lady herself.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living with a large number of Chicagolands. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges
Look Dolly Parton: Muzikares Tribute on Netflix