Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

"I make jokes about the fact that I had to get rich in order to be able to sing like I was poor again," Dolly Parton says, referring to the heartfelt Appalachian flavor of her new collection, "Halos & Horns."

The album is the third to be released on Parton's Blue Eye imprint in conjunction with Sugar Hill Records. Her first Blue Eye/Sugar Hill effort, "The Grass Is Blue," won album of the year honors at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards in 2000, as well as a Grammy Award for best bluegrass album. "Little Sparrow," issued in January 2001, netted Parton a Grammy for best female country vocal performance, for her cover of Collective Soul's "Shine."

"I'm just loving having this outlet where I can go back and do what I really love to do -- actually, what I do best," she says. "There just wasn't a market for me for many years. Then I started doing the same music I came out of the Smoky Mountains with, and it's catching on again."

The 14-track "Halos & Horns" continues Parton's excellent trajectory, serving up a set of originals that explores the complexities of the human condition. On the traditional country title cut, Parton observes: "Just because it feels right does not make it so/So we struggle through life in horns and halos."

Like everyone else, Parton was deeply affected by the events of last Sept. 11. Two new songs written out of her emotional response to the tragedy are "Hello God" and "Raven Dove."

"People don't realize how much we need God until something really goes wrong," Parton says. "When everything went up in smoke, so to speak, everybody ran to God to try to find a way. I felt very inspired to write 'Hello God.' With 'Raven Dove,' I just woke up in the middle of the night, and that song just started to come."

Two of the most intriguing cuts on the album are covers. Parton revives Bread's classic "If," which she says "used to be one of our love songs, and it still is," referring to her husband of 36 years, Carl Dean. She also tackles Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," using a choir on the song. Parton says, "I'd always heard it like a gospel song. It always reminded me of somebody struggling to get to heaven but who was too weak and materialistic to do it."

As previously reported, Parton will tour for the first time in a decade behind the set. The 13-city trek kicks off July 10 -- the day after the album's release at Irving Plaza in New York. The official first single will be "Dagger Through the Heart," which will be supported with a video debuting July 20 on "CMT's Most Wanted Live" and via the Internet at aol.com.





Excerpted from the July 6, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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