How Dolly Parton Ended Up Onstage With the Highwomen at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival
Dolly Parton made a surprise appearance at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival on July 27, appearing alongside country supergroup the Highwomen and a host of other female performers. Parton performed a goosebumps-inducing rendition of her classic song "I Will Always Love You" with Highwomen member and solo artist Brandi Carlile that was one of the highlights of the festival — but just how did the Queen of Country Music pull off her surprise appearance?
The plan first began when Carlile invited Parton to surprise the audience during the set she was curating; however, Carlile did not know that Parton was officially showing up until a few days before the concert took place. In a recent interview with Variety, Carlile admits that the process was "touch and go for a long time."
"It was like, ‘I sure would like to do that, and if I can, I will. I’ll let you know closer to Christmas.’ Then Christmas came and went. ‘You know, I started my film schedule, and I won’t know until just before, so make sure you don’t announce me,'" Carlile recounts. "So it was like that for a year of just digesting my stomach lining."
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Then, one day when Carlile was in the studio, she finally got confirmation that Parton was indeed going to be making an appearance at Newport. "I was in the studio with the Highwomen and I got an email and it said: ‘Just Because I’m a Woman,’ ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Eagle When She Flies,'" Carlile recounts. "And I was like, she’s gonna do it – oh my God!"
However, the plan kept evolving. Parton decided to add some of her classic hits into her appearance plans just days before she took the stage: "And then like day before yesterday, she added ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You,’ and I was like, ‘F--k!'," says Carlile.
"Girl power! Such a delight to share the stage with so many amazing women at @newportfolkfest! Thanks to @brandicarlile for getting the whole gang together," Parton wrote on Instagram when sharing a clip of her performance.
"I just love surprises! You should have seen the look on your faces," Parton captioned another post from Newport. "Thanks for having me @brandicarlile."
The Highwomen's self-titled debut album is set for release on Sept. 6. The album's first single, "Redesigning Women," is out now.
See the Highwomen + More at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival