Dolly Parton turns 75: Country music legend's birthday wish is 'a call for kindness'

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As Dolly Parton blows out the candles on her birthday cake Tuesday, she’s asking for a gift that can’t be bought.

“This year my wish is a call for kindness,” Parton captioned a throwback photo of herself, as she turned 75. “We can’t just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day. Love too often gets buried in a world of hurt and fear. We have to work to dig it out so we can share it with our family, our friends and our neighbors. So today, January 19th, let’s get to unearthing love.”

Dolly Parton, pictured on "Today" in 2017, turns 75 on Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
Dolly Parton, pictured on Today in 2017, turns 75 on Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Parton, whose message arrives as the country is divided politically and in the throes of a pandemic, has done more than just wish everyone well during a tough time: She donated $1 million to the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. She’s continued to steer her Imagination Library, which promotes children’s literacy by providing books for children under 5.

The country music legend, who has usually kept her political comments to her songs, also spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and explained dropping the “Dixie” from the name of her Medieval Times-like dinner attraction, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, because of its association with the Confederacy.

“I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” Parton told Billboard in August 2020. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white a**es are the only ones that matter? No!”

Though Parton has a lot to celebrate on her birthday, she’s long joked that she refuses to get any older — and that she doesn’t have time for it anyway.

“I’m just gonna be the best that I can be at whatever age I am,” she told Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Conversation in November 2020. “And I bet you I’m not gonna look that different at 95 because I’m like the Gabor sisters. I’m gonna look like a cartoon. I’ll have on the makeup. I’ll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me. And it’s like all that makeup and lighting and all that. But I think more than anything, it’s about what comes from inside you.”

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