How Dolly Parton was inspired by Whitney Houston when she spent ‘I Will Always Love You’ royalties

2 August 2021, 15:40

Dolly Parton Whitney Houston smiling close up
Dolly Parton Whitney Houston smiling close up. Picture: Getty
Hannah Lovejoy

By Hannah Lovejoy

Dolly Parton’s songwriting catalogue is vast, and one of her most successful credits to date is ‘I Will Always Love You’, the track made famous by Whitney Houston when she performed a cover as part of the 1992 film The Bodyguard.

Dolly has earned millions of pounds in royalties from the iconic song although a specific amount hasn’t been confirmed. However, Dolly revealed that she spent her earnings from the track in a special way and the investment was inspired by Whitney.

The ‘I Will Always Love You’ money was invested by Dolly into a building that was located in Nashville, Tennessee in an area that had a historically large Black community.

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Speaking fondly of the building, Dolly described it as “the house that Whitney built” during an interview on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on Thursday (July 29).

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“I bought my big office complex down in Nashville. So I thought, ‘well, this is a wonderful place to be’. I bought a property down in what was the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there,” Dolly explained.

“It was off the beaten path from 16th Avenue and I thought, ‘well, I am gonna buy this place — the whole strip mall.’ And I thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be,’ considering it was Whitney.”

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Dolly said that the investment was “great” and was pleased that she could invest her earnings into that community.

She continued: “I thought this was great — I’m just gonna be down here with her people, who are my people as well. So I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built’."

Whitney Houston Performs In Paris Bercy On May 18th, 1988 In Paris,France
Whitney Houston Performs In Paris Bercy On May 18th, 1988 In Paris,France. Picture: Getty

Whitney’s cover of ‘I Will Always Love You’ helped Dolly secure significant royalties. Last year, Forbes estimated that Whitney’s version of the song racked up a profit of $10m (around £7.1m) for Dolly in the 1990s.

Dolly’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ track first appeared as a B side to her 1973 album Jolene. Originally, the track was arranged as a country song, Dolly’s version reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Country Chart twice, the first time was in 1974 and then again in 1982.

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In 1992, Whitney recorded her version of the track, the cover was used as one of the leading tracks in The Bodyguard movie.

When Whitney’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ cover was released it spent 14 weeks at number one on the Billboard chart. The track appeared on The Bodyguard - Original Soundtrack Album and in 1994, the record won Album of the Year at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards.