Parton: 'I'm Never Saying Farewell'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Having assembled her elaborate Hello, I'm Dolly show, Dolly Parton has made a renewed commitment to touring. Just don't call it a farewell tour.

"I never said I retired, I'm never saying farewell," Parton tells Billboard. "I don't know why people do that, because they always show back up and look stupid. This tour is 'Hello again, I'm still here."'

The tour will play mostly theater setups in arenas in some 40 markets coast-to-coast. "This is the longest stretch I've done in years and years," she said.

Parton says if the tour goes well, she may play as many as 75 to 100 dates next year.

"I've booked no shows for next year, and I'm not obligated," she stressed. "By the end of the tour, we'll evaluate it, see what people take to and what they don't take to. I expect to be doing this for the next few years, though I'll pick and choose when and where I want to work."

The tour begins Oct. 1 at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C., and wraps Dec. 19 at the Key Arena in Seattle. The route includes arenas, classic theaters like the Fox in Atlanta and casino venues.

Parton said that while there isn't yet a Nashville date on the tour, she'll likely bring the show to Music City in 2005. "I don't want to book [Nashville] 'til we get real good," she said. "I don't want to be criticized by the home folk."

Parton is also in the process of writing original material for a Broadway musical based on her life, which she said is getting a lot of interest.

"I'm an entertainer and a singer, and I love the audience and being onstage," she said. "So the next few years I want to go back on the road before I'm too old to do it."

Of the new show, Parton said that it's "more of a production than I've ever had on the road, with light and sound and fun things I've never done. It's real high-tech. I call it 'Buck Rogers meets Will Rogers."'

Musically, the show is a career retrospective. "It'll have bluegrass, country, gospel and the big-production things," she said. "It's gonna be a fun show. I take a few liberties, but at my age I think I can do that."

The Grascals, Parton's bluegrass band, will open all dates and join with other players for Parton's set. "There's 10 guys onstage, and I'm the only girl," she said. "I love that."

Excerpted from the Oct. 2, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

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