VIP and Media Event, Heartsongs Theatre, Dollywood, June 16, 2006
At the conclusion of the Imagination Playhouse performance of “My Lucky Day,” the cast joins a pre-recorded Dolly (shown on a television screen above the stage) to perform the theme song she wrote for the show, “You Gotta Be.” The song concludes with the line “You gotta be ready,” followed by the cast shouting the phrase “Are you ready?” Immediately thereafter, Dolly walks on stage to applause and cheers.
DOLLY: Well, you bet I’m ready! How ‘bout a nice hand for them? (Unintelligible comment under the applause from the audience.)
Aw, well, how are you? This is great. I tell you, this show is so good. I’ve had the most fun watchin’ it.I’ve been there watching the pig and the fox. That poor fox just works hard, doesn’t he? (Laughs from crowd.) I’m out of breath just watchin’ him! That’s so cute!
But last year I got to co-star with the, uh, Little Engine That Could. Yeah, and I did good, too, didn’t I? (Cheers.) Ha, ha! We didn’t have but five minutes to work it up! But we had fun and it’s always fun to work together.
‘Course, the Imagination Library has grown so much since we started all this, and of course we love our little playhouse. And, of course, we started out about 10 years ago with our idea of the Imagination Library and before we even knew it we started puttin’ all these little things together. Now we’ve grown in the Imagination Library to 600 communities and we mail over, well, I think we’re gonna mail over about 3 million books this year. (Applause and cheers.)
And, of course, we’ve just added the last county in Tennessee, which we’re very proud about that. ‘Course, every child in the state is eligible for the Imagination Library, and ‘course we have a big contest that we’re gonna do the fall at the bluegrass festival. I’ve written a, a cookbook called “Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s.” Got a lot of good food in it, but, the win, I wrote the book so we could actually sell it and all the proceeds go to the Imagination Library and, of course, somebody’s gonna win, and the prize this fall is gonna be me. (Screams from audience.) I, like I said, I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s still gonna be me. (Laughs) What you get if you win the, the prize is you win me and I get to go out with my kinfolks, the band that works here on the park, and we’re gonna go to the backyard of whoever the person is that does win, and we’re gonna have our big bluegrass, uh, festival, and we’re gonna do a lot of music, but, and we’re gonna cook. And I have to serve the 100 guests that the winner gets to invite in their back yard, but I don’t do dishes! (Laughs) So don’t you even ask if you’re the winner! I know you’re hoping to win.
But, anyhow, we are very excited about that, and ‘course, every year here at KidsFest we honor several important people, so today we got, ah, folks that are gonna come out here. In fact, I think the lady that wrote the book that they just did the playhouse of, so, uh, David Dotson, who runs the Imagination Library, he’s here. He knows more about all this. They’ve had me so busy I don’t know half of what’s goin’ on. So, David, you want to come out here? How ‘bout a nice hand for David Dotson? (Applause with unintelligible comment.) Tell us what all we’ve got goin’ on!
DAVID: Well, I guess the first thing is I heard about winning that cookbook contest. (Applause.)
DOLLY: Yeah, you want to win?
DOLLY: I’m hopin’ somebody in my family’ll do it. ‘Cause then they might win and I can just stay home and cook!
DAVID: It’d be just like Sunday.
DOLLY: Yeah, it would be.
DAVID: Well, we do have several people that we wanted to, ah, bring out that from those who are back there and to you. And although she’s already been introduced in a clever way, we’d, we’d certainly like to bring on stage the author of “My Lucky Day” and many other wonderful children’s books, a couple others that we have in the Imagination Library. The only thing better than her writing is her spirit and her personality.
DOLLY: Oh, especially!
DAVID: Ms. Keiko Kasza.
DOLLY: Come on out here! (Applause.) Oh, come on UP here! She’s down there! I just wanted you to know we are so proud to have your, the story here on stage. And we’re so proud of all the stuff that you do. Yeah, I personally love all your stuff. I was just curious to know if you have something else exciting in the works for . . .
KEIKO: Well, I’m working on one right now called “Badger’s Fancy Meal.”
KEIKO: Fancy Meal.
DOLLY: Fancy Meal. OK. Well, maybe I’ll have to write the music to that, too!
KEIKO: OK! (Laughs.) I want to tell you something, Dolly. Um, 25 years ago, my first book came out, and I told my husband, “Great, I can die now.” But now, 17 books later, this happened. I think I can go to Heaven. (Laughs and applause.)
DOLLY: You’ve been wonderful to our children. Thank you so much! How ‘bout a nice hand? (Applause with unintelligible comment.) Next.
DAVID: And, as I said, uh, Keiko will be after the show in the lobby signing books. So if you’d like to purchase a copy of “My Lucky Day” and get her . . .
DOLLY: I do. I want her autograph.
DAVID: To sign it, uh, it’s all the way over in the lobby, and she’ll sign until the last person stands. That’ll be a good thing. Well, our next guest is somebody very new that we’ve never really had here before. About a year ago, the Miss South Carolina pageant in South Carolina adopted the Imagination Library as their statewide platform. So all the contestants around the state, you know, do, doing most of the things with the Imagination Library as their other causes, but one this year did more than anyone else, and she’s preparing for the state pageant. She’s Miss Beauford/Jasper County, and her name is Nina Gilliam.
DOLLY: Yeah! How ‘bout a nice hand for Nina? (Applause.) Yeah, Nina! I got to see you earlier because we got our picture made at our, our VIPs earlier. I just wanted you to tell everybody what all you did for the Imagination Library.
NINA: Well, um, I actually, am Miss Beauford/Jasper County, as they said, and I work with the Jasper County First Steps, and it is involved in the Imagination Library. I actually use the books that y’all sent out for age-appropriate and I read to K4 and kindergarten the books. And my favorite book in the Library is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.” And so I read that to the K4 class just before they go to kindergarten. But I also went out to the community and signed up children and raised over $2,500 and clocked in 52 hours of community service towards the Imagination Library.
DOLLY: Well, yeah, you deserve that crown, don’t you think? (Applause and unintelligible comment.) What’s next for you?
NINA: Well, the pageant is July 4th through the 8th in Spartanburg, S.C., and I’d like to invite Dolly to come on July 8. It’s the crowning night.
DOLLY: I hope I can.
NINA: That would be great. What I’ve been doing is preparing, you know, really mentally and physically for the competition, to be Miss South Carolina and to represent the state of South Carolina in the Miss America pageant.
DOLLY: Well, they should be very proud of you. You’ve certainly got a, a lot of your physical beauty, but you’ve got a good heart. I can just feel it. Don’t you feel her sweetness and her tenderness? (Applause and unintelligible comment.) Thanks for all that you've done for us.
NINA: I brought you an autographed picture.
DOLLY: Oh, well, thank you!
NINA: And I’ll give it back here to David so he can put it in your dressing room.
DOLLY: Oh, well, look, I got my own picture!
NINA: Now I just need your autograph!
DOLLY: I’ll give it to you. Anything you want.
NINA: And the blue outfit that you were wearing.
DOLLY: Oh, yeah, she wanted the blue outfit I had on earlier. You’re gonna have to some plugs or something! (Laughs.)
NINA: We have a way to take care of that, too.
DOLLY: Oh, you learned how to fix them, too?
DOLLY: I knew about the duct tape that some of you do and the Vaseline you put on your teeth. (Unintelligible comments. Applause as Nina leaves the stage.)
DAVID: I know I’ll be keeping abreast of all the activities. (Laughs.)
DOLLY: Oh, ha-ha! You just had to get in on it, didn’t ya! OK. What else we got over there, Mr. funny man?
DAVID: Well, one of the best things that we’ve done besides the Imagination Library is wach year award Dolly Parton Scholarships to four high school seniors in Sevier County, one in each high school. And we have our sponsors, our partners at those high schools, and they are Sevier High School, Sevier County High School, uh, Alumni Association, I’ll get it out, Tennessee State Bank, Citizens National Bank, and, of course, Dixie Stampede. So we have to of our, um, of our recipients here today. We have, I’d like to introduce Bethany Kloster and Tiffany Alexander.
DOLLY: Come on out here, girls! (Applause.) And congratulations. Hi! How are you doing? And I’m sure all these folks wanna know where you’re going to school. So, why don’t you tell us where you’re headed. Wanna start with you?
BETHANY: Um, I’m going to Carson Newman in the fall and I’m planning to major in athletic training.
DOLLY: Woo! (Applause.) How 'bout you?
TIFFANY: I’m also going to Carson Newman and I plan in majoring in nursing.
DOLLY: Good luck to both of you. And my scholarship, you know, is all about pursuing a dream, so why don’t you tell everybody what your dream is.
BETHANY: Well, my dream, once I get out of Carson Newman, is to be an athletic trainer for a professional sports team.
DOLLY: Oh, good, and how ‘bout you?
TIFFANY: My dream is to be a neo-natal nurse.
DOLLY: You know, when I was graduatin' from high school back in 1964 here in Sevier County, I had got up, and they were asking all the kids what they wanted to be, and I got up and I said I’m movin’ to Nashville and I’m gonna become a star. And everybody laughed at me, but I did it, so you stick with your dream like I did and I’m laughin’ all the way to the bank. (Applause and cheers.) Thank you for coming and good luck to both of you. OK. Oh, a whole life ahead of ‘em out there.
DAVID: Makes ya feel old, doesn’t it.
DOLLY: I ain’t feelin’ old, and I ain’t admittin’ it even if I did! (Laughs.)
DAVID: Well, I feel old.
DOLLY: And you feel old?
DAVID: And I look old, and you haven’t.
DOLLY: I ain’t going there either! (Laughs.) As long as there’s cosmetics and doctors in this world! (Laughs.)
DAVID: They’ll do a procedure for men who've gone bald?.
DOLLY: I don’t care. (Unintelligible comment.) I got some wigs for you! (Laughs.)
DAVID: I’m not going there either. (Laughs.) OK We’re through the . . .
DOLLY: Hey, we need to put a show together. (Laughs.) He’d make a great straight man. I couldn’t go there! (Laughs and applause.)(Unintelligible comment.)
DAVID: Well, our, here we go. Ready?
DOLLY: Get serious.
DAVID: Last but not least, uh, each year we give the Chasing Rainbows Award to the teacher that’s overcome great obstacles and personal struggles in their lives to really go on and inspire students across the country and we do this in partnership with the National State Teacher of the Year Organization. (Unintelligible comment.) So each year it’s always a wonderful person that wins, and this year our recipient hails from Mississippi. Uh, Dolly, I now you often kid about being from a large family, and uh, that’s due to some “amorous holy rollers,” I think you used a word like that.
DAVID: Ah, well, Bobbie is one of 22 children. (Gasps from crowd.)
DOLLY: Oh my word! That is a lot of children! That’s twice what we had.
DAVID: Yeah, so I don’t know. It’s just, you know, such a, an incredible family. She made it on her own as a single mother with her kids and trying her luck in Chicago, and then coming back home to Mississippi and at 40 years old became a teacher.
DAVID: And has gone on to receive the letters and testimonials about what she has meant to the lives of the ones she’s touched. Well, you know, words can’t really describe it, so, all I’m gonna do is introduce the 19, the 2006 Chasing Rainbows Award winner, Miss Bobbie Clifton. (Applause.)
DOLLY: Come on out here, Bobbie! How are you? It is my honor and privilage to give it to you, too. So, anyway, we want you to have this Chasing Rainbows Award. And I just, ah, it’s just a small token of our appreciation for all that you’ve done for our children, so, look at that. Ain’t that pretty? It’s too heavy for either of us, so it’s gonna be yours and we’re gonna let her hold it for you, and we’re gonna just let you talk about some stuff. I can’t believe you’re from that many children.
BOBBIE: I am. (Unintelligible comment.)
DOLLY: Yeah, you do. Talk to ‘em a minute.
BOBBIE: OK. 15 years ago I never dreamed I'd be a teacher. I was a high school drop out. I never went to high school. Through God’s help and a lot of amazing people, some of which I see around you, I decided to go to college and become a teacher. At 40, in 1992, in fact, I became a teacher. I never thought anyone, especially not Dolly Parton, would be honoring me for something that I love to do. I love to do it because I know what it does. My parents were both illiterate, and I was the seventh child. So there were many, many struggles. And so when I became a teacher, I wanted to help those children like me who thought that they couldn’t. And everyday I take time helping those children. In fact, I’m the president of Mississippi Reading Association, so we’re combating illiteracy in ALL states. (Applause.)
DOLLY: Thank you so much. And you have a good heart! I just wanted to thank you for being good. How ‘bout another nice hand. Look at that! Come back. It’s a standing ovation! Bless her heart. Bless her heart. We love you for it. See, that’s what it’s all about. People helping the children of the world, and getting’ to meet special people like that. This is so much fun. I tell you, I hope I get to do this from now on. Maybe I’ll have 22 children! Ha, ha! I guess I got more than that, now, don't I! I guess God didn’t let me have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine. So I believe that I’ve given out every dime I have and every piece of hardware, so why don’t we sing. I tell you what, is everybody ready? Let’s do the little thing I wrote for ‘em. Thanks again to all of you! Thanks for comin’! Yeah!
The cast joins Dolly to sing “You Gotta Be,” with applause as it ends.
DOLLY: See you later! Thanks to all of you for comin'. I guess we’re done. I’ll see you all down on the park! (Dolly leaves the stage.)
Note: Due to speaker layout in the theatre and location of the media seating, there were several brief places in the audio recording of these remarks where the audience's applause or other factors made it difficult to understand what someone on stage was saying. Those instances are noted in the transcript as "unintelligible." There were also a handful of similar moments where most of the words, but not all, could be made out. Consequently, there may be a handful of spots in the transcript where the words aren't exacty correct. Please forgive :)