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A legend’s legacy: Documentary takes a look at the prolific life of Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is featured on the My Music special “Dolly Parton: I Will Always Love You.” (Courtesy of TJL Productions)

TJ Lubinsky wasn’t the biggest Dolly Parton fan.

That was until he made the documentary, “Dolly Parton: I Will Always Love You.”

It will air at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, on New Mexico PBS. It will rebroadcast at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

“I wasn’t a super Dolly fan as I am a Doo-Wop fan,” he says. “I’ve been doing shows for over 20 years. I wasn’t hip to the breadth of her catalog. ‘I Will Always Love You’ is a very emotional song and it was attractive to me. I never got to see her story.”

Over her 50-plus years in the industry, Parton has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts.

Her songwriting talent produced genre-busting hits for herself and for others, including “Jolene,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “9 to 5,” the theme song for the 1980 feature film in which she starred alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

Parton also co-starred in the hit films “Steel Magnolias” and “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” among others, and has been nominated for an Academy Award twice.

Parton’s career is unique.

“I want my legacy to be about everything that I’ve tried to do, that I did it fairly well. I love the fact that I left the Smoky Mountains to be a singer and a writer. I love the fact that I not only got to do that, but I got to be in the movies and produce movies, and to be a businesswoman,” Parton said in a release. “I love the fact that I have the Imagination Library, the literacy program where I give books to children from the time they’re born till they start school. And I love that I get to do so many things and that I’ve just loved doing it all. That’s what a true success is, is when you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished.”

Lubinsky wanted to capture the amazing connection that Parton has over an audience.

He says the goal of his documentaries are to spark memories.

“It’s a real powerful thing to take an audience back to a time when there weren’t so many problems in the world,” he says. “Dolly’s songs remind you that there are tough times, but things will get better.”

After watching hours of footage, Lubinsky says one thing is clear.

“Dolly has an amazing way to cut to the camera,” he says. “No matter how she is singing, you feel like she is talking right to you. It’s inspiring, because they don’t make entertainers like her any more.”

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