Dolly Parton Reveals The Challenges She Faced When Recording Her ‘ROCKSTAR’ Album

“I really tested my voice,” she confessed.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

November 17, 2023

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Photo Courtesy of Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is living up to her Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame induction with the release of her first-ever rock album, aptly titled, ROCKSTAR

Out now, the project features a whopping 30 tracks, including 9 originals and 21 iconic rock covers. Adding to the excitement surrounding the project, Parton invited a slew of rock legends to sing with her on the album. 

Inside The Album Release Event

In celebration of the star-studded release, Parton hosted a ROCKSTAR album release event in partnership with American Greetings on Thursday evening (Nov. 16) just outside of Nashville where she discussed the making of the project in a room full of friends, family, special guests, and members of the music community (including newly crowned CMA Entertainer of the Year, Lainey Wilson!). 

Dolly Parton; Photo Provided
Dolly Parton; Photo Provided

Admits It Was A “Challenge”

After discussing her ROCKSTAR fashion and her upcoming halftime show performance during the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving day game, Parton shared insight into the making of the album and admitted that it was “kind of a challenge” for her. 

“I didn’t really know if I could do it great,” the humble East Tennessee native confessed. “That’s why I did 30 songs, because I was doing it on a demo scale. And so I thought, well, we’ll just do all these songs and then we’ll pick the ones that are the best out of it.”

Much to her surprise, “they all kept turning out good” and the track list continued to grow. While in the studio with her longtime collaborator, Kent Wells, Parton pushed herself to hit notes she had never hit before. 

Dolly Parton; Photo Provided
Dolly Parton; Photo Provided

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m a country singer, but now I’m going to do rock.’ And as I mentioned before, I wanted to do it well, but I kept hearing things and I thought, ‘I wonder if I can hit that note?’ 

She ‘Tested’ Her Voice

In the end, Parton says she decided to just “go for it.” 

“I would actually would go for things that I normally had not or would not… I really got into singing these songs and I really tested my voice and I would hold notes longer than I normally would to see how long my breath would hold out.” 

YouTube video

She believes channeling her inner ROCKSTAR is what truly helped her shine on this project.  

“And then I’d sing higher than I normally had on ‘Freebird’ or on ‘Purple Rain.’ When I got to sing those songs, I thought, ‘Wow.’ I just felt the spirit of the people that wrote them and I thought, ‘Well, help me out here!’ And I just went for it,” she explained. “So yeah, it was good. I got to challenge myself and I thought I measured up pretty good on a lot of them, so I hope you’ll feel the same.” 

ROCKSTAR is available as a Four LP set, a two CD set (including Home Shopping Network, University of Tennessee and Dallas Cowboys CD exclusives), a double cassette (exclusive to TalkShopLive), digital download and available on all streaming services.

Dolly Parton 'Rockstar' Album Art
Dolly Parton ‘Rockstar’ Album Art


1. Rockstar (special guest Richie Sambora)
2. World on Fire
3. Every Breath You Take (feat. Sting)
4. Open Arms (feat. Steve Perry)
5. Magic Man(Carl Version) (feat. Ann Wilson with special guest Howard Leese)
6. Long As I Can See The Light (feat. John Fogerty)
7. Either Or (feat. Kid Rock)
8. I Want You Back (feat. Steven Tyler with special guest Warren Haynes)
9. What Has Rock And Roll Ever Done For You (feat. Stevie Nicks with special guest Waddy Wachtel)
10. Purple Rain
11. Baby, I Love Your Way (feat. Peter Frampton)
12. I Hate Myself For Loving You (feat. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts)
13. Night Moves (feat. Chris Stapleton)
14. Wrecking Ball (feat. Miley Cyrus)
15. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (feat. P!nk & Brandi Carlile)
16. Keep On Loving You (feat. Kevin Cronin)
17. Heart Of Glass (feat. Debbie Harry)
18. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (feat. Elton John)
19. Tried To Rock And Roll Me (feat. Melissa Etheridge)
20. Stairway To Heaven (feat. Lizzo & Sasha Flute)
21. We Are The Champions/We Will Rock You
22. Bygones (feat. Rob Halford with special guests Nikki Sixx & John 5)
23. My Blue Tears (feat. Simon Le Bon)
24. What’s Up? (feat. Linda Perry)
25. You’re No Good (feat. Emmylou Harris & Sheryl Crow)
26. Heartbreaker (feat. Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo)
27. Bittersweet (feat. Michael McDonald)
28. I Dreamed About Elvis (feat. Ronnie McDowell with special guest The Jordanaires)
29. Let It Be (feat. Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr with special guests Peter Frampton & Mick Fleetwood)
30. Free Bird (feat. Lynyrd Skynyrd with special guests Artimus Pyle and The Artimus Pyle Band)

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.