I’ve been singing this beautiful Dolly Parton song live in concert since Selah began fourteen years ago, so we felt like it was time to finally record it! We recorded one of Dolly’s songs on our “Rose of Bethlehem” CD in 2002 and she came and sang a duet with me on it! Talk about an experience I’ll never forget! Growing up in East TN as I did, not too far from where Dolly grew up, I felt a kinship with her from a very young age. She is part of the fabric of life for folks in that region, so I grew up hearing her music played throughout our home. As a child with my own musical dreams, I was impacted greatly by her life story.
She and I talked about “Coat of Many Colors” that day in the studio.
It’s the most meaningful song to her out of the many she’s written (and that’s saying something!). She wrote it about her mother, and it’s a true story from her childhood of extreme poverty. But as Dolly put it so beautifully that morning, “I love this song because it’s about a philosophy and attitude towards life. You can have nothing of material worth in this world, and still be richer than most. It’s all in what you value.” Dolly certainly knows whereof she speaks, and this beautiful lady’s dreams, courage, and kindness have impacted my life since I was a child. Thank you, Dolly, for dreaming big and following your heart—you didn’t know it at the time, but you inspired a little boy in East TN to go out and do the same!
P.S.– I have to let y’all in on something really special that happened! Unbeknownst to me, Amy and Jason Kyle (our producer) got together and sent my version of the song to Dolly, then surprised me with a letter she wrote to me saying how much it had touched her heart! I was in tears when they gave it to me – actually, to be totally honest with you, I was a blubbering mess!! The letter said in part:
“I just about had an emotional breakdown when I heard your version of ‘Coat of Many Colors.’ Your voice and emotion on the song went straight to my soul. I wish my Mama could have heard it. I guess East TN people just have a knack for touching people’s hearts. You certainly touched mine.”
I’m sure you can see why I was so deeply touched. What sweet words from such a wonderful woman, and so encouraging to me! I hope the beautiful story in this song speaks to your heart like it did mine all those years ago.