Terry Morrow: Unlikely Dolly Parton discovers her 'Soul' on VH1 special

Dolly Parton

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Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton has found her Soul.

The Sevier County native may not be the first name that comes to mind when assembling a group for VH1's "Divas Celebrate Soul" special (airing 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19), but, apparently, she has enough soul to run with the big dogs of the genre.

Parton will be sharing the stage for the TV event with Anita Baker, Mavis Staples, Wanda Jackson, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Nas, Common, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Florence + The Machine, Jennifer Hudson, Jessie J., Jill Scott, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Boyz II Men, Estelle, Marsha Ambrosius, Travie McCoy and La La Anthony.

It's not clear if she'll be singing; more than likely, she'll be a presenter.

Parton will participate in paying homage to "musical" cities (such as Memphis and Detroit).

She'll be getting her groove together in 2012, when "Joyful Noise," a musical-comedy in which she stars with Queen Latifah, will play in theaters in mid-January.

The film casts Parton as a widow who's trying to hold her late husband's student choir together.

nHonor. As the year ends, Kenny Chesney's hardware count grows.

The East Tennessee native was recently honored with CMT's Artist of the Year award. Others also garnering the prize included Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift, for their successes of the past year.

A 90-minute special, hosted by Rob Lowe, will premiere 9 p.m. Tuesday on CMT and CMT.com.

"Today, country music is bigger than ever and (is) the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to melody, humanity and storytelling," Lowe commented as he kicked off the evening's festivities.

"It's no accident that tonight all of the five artists that we honor are singer-songwriters and storytellers."

Other artists paying tribute to the honorees include Gavin DeGraw, The All-American Rejects, Joe Walsh and The Avett Brothers.

Sara Evans, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Lionel Richie, William Shatner, Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Gordon were also part of the night.

According to CMT, over the past 12 months, Aldean, Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Paisley and Swift have collectively received over 2.7 million spins of their current songs; sold over 9 million copies of their current albums; sold over 20 million individual downloads of their current singles; and have garnered over 10.2 million video streams, in addition to topping both the touring and CMT.com charts, proving themselves to be the top country artists for 2011.

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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