WATCH: Dolly Parton Breaks Into Song And Uses Her Fingernails As An Instrument During Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Speech

Dolly Parton was recently honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy during the formal awards ceremony that was held New…


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

October 18, 2022


12:57 pm

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Dolly Parton; Photo via YouTube

Dolly Parton was recently honored with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy during the formal awards ceremony that was held New York City on October 13. In the midst of her lighthearted speech, the country icon decided to share a catchy jingle she wrote for her Imagination Library.

“It’s called ‘Books Books’” she told the audience before adding, “you might have to listen closely and maybe you sing it with me later.”

Since Parton was flying solo with this impromptu performance, she worked with what she had to the best of her abilities. She rubbed her acrylic nails together to create a sound that got the beat started. 

From there, she sang the lyrics, “Oh, books, books. I love books. The way they feel and smell and look. From my first look I was hooked on books, books, books.”

After slowing down the words to make sure the audience was able to catch on, they were prompted to sing along with her. 

YouTube video

“Boy, you’re ready to sing ‘9 to 5’ now, ain’t you?” Parton joked. 

This isn’t the first time she has tapped out a rhythm using her manicured nails. Last year, she re-recorded her 1980 hit, “9 to 5” for a Squarespace Super Bowl ad. In the reworked a cappella version titled “5 to 9,” Parton used only her acrylic nails. In between takes on the set of the film 9 to 5, Parton didn’t have any musical instruments on hand, so once again, she would write songs using the sound of her nails. 

During the recent event, the singer/songwriter was given a medal to wear in recognition of “her investments in alleviating poverty, strengthening early childhood education through the distribution of free books worldwide, increasing college access, and advancing medical research.”

“I was afraid I was gonna have to take my hair off to get this on,” Parton said laughing as she referred to the medal that was placed over her tall, blonde hair in order for it to be worn around her neck. 

Eventually, Parton did put her jokes aside to share how “proud” and “honored” she was to be included in “anything that is going to make the world a better place.”

“I just give from my heart. I never know what I’m gonna do or why I’m gonna do it. I just see a need and if I can fill it, then I will,” Parton shared. 

Through the Dolly Parton Foundation, her Imagination Library program offers free books to children five years old or younger.

“So many of us, I’m sure a lot of you out there, one time, another had been made fun of for some reason or another, and that’s a terrible feeling,” she continued in her speech. “To know that something or someone can make your life better, is great. So I am just proud and honored to receive this medal. I’ll probably sleep in this tonight since I just got it.”

When showing her gratitude towards the Carnegie Corporation, the country star pointed out that she had been pronouncing the title wrong all these years. Parton joked that she had even played in Carnegie Hall the night before but didn’t realize she had been pronouncing it wrong until she was on stage accepting the medal.

Parton went on to explain that growing up, her dad would say, “‘Well, what do you think we are? The Carnegies?’ or ‘the Rockefellers?’ But anyhow, I was proud. We just thought they were just rich people and they were just out of our realm all together. But it is so touching to me to know that those wonderful people with all that money were all so poor at one time, but that they were so willing to give so much to help so many, and if I can just do my small part in this world, then that’s all that I’d ask in this world. So I’m very proud of the Imagination Library, that is very dear to me.”

In conclusion, Parton said, “I just hope that I can continue doing good things and I hope the Lord will continue to bless me and I give him praise for all the, the good things that’s happened to me. So I thank you as well. Thank you and good night.” 

Find out more about the Imagination Library HERE.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.