When Dolly Parton calls, her celebrity friends answer. How well-loved the entertainment icon is was on full display Tuesday night, as she staged the three-hour Smoky Mountains Rise telethon to help her beloved East Tennessee homeland recover from the devastating wildfires last month.
The Country Music Hall-of-Famer herself led the parade of superstar performances, offering emotional renditions of staples from her catalog like “My Tennessee Mountain Home” and “Smoky Mountain Memories.”
Chris Stapleton debuted a new song called “Broken Halos,” before sticking around to answer phones with his wife, Morgane. As he left, he deposited a $50,000 check in Dolly’s dressing room, which she discovered after he’d gone.
Current hitmakers Chris Janson and Lauren Alaina did their latest singles “Holdin’ Her” and “Road Less Traveled,” while LOCASH staged their recent number-one, “I Love This Life.”
Superstars like Reba and Amy Grant offered favorites like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Tennessee Christmas” from their new holiday albums. Likewise, Chris Young delivered “There’s a New Kid in Town,” from his yuletide collection.
Cyndi Lauper showed her affection for the region by demonstrating her expertise on one of its native instruments, performing her classic “Time After Time” accompanied only by a dulcimer.
Those who couldn’t be there in person either phoned or sent a message. Dierks Bentley pledged $100,000 when he called, as did American musical legend Paul Simon. Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, ABC’s Robin Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Steve Harvey and Larry King all showed their support through pre-recorded videos.
Kenny Rogers showed up to prove his most recent collaboration with Dolly, “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” is certainly true, as the two delivered the night’s highlight -- a performance of their 1983 smash hit, “Islands in the Stream.”
Look for an announcement in the coming days about exactly how much money Dolly was able to raise for her My People Fund.
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