Dolly Parton: Singer, Songwriter, Pandemic Savior?

She wrote “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” on the same day and built a theme park around herself. She has given memorable onscreen performances as a wisecracking hairstylist and harassed secretary. She even helped bring about the creation of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Now, Dolly Parton’s fans are crediting her with saving the world from the coronavirus. It’s an exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek claim, to be sure. But for legions of admirers, Ms. Parton’s donation this spring to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with the drugmaker Moderna to develop a coronavirus vaccine, was another example of how the singer’s generosity and philanthropy have made her one of the world’s most beloved artists.

“Shakespeare may have written King Lear during the plague, but Dolly Parton funded a Covid vaccine, dropped a Christmas album and a Christmas special,” the author Lyz Lenz said on Twitter.

In April, Ms. Parton announced that she had donated $1 million to Vanderbilt after her friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, a professor of surgery at the university, in Nashville, told her about the work researchers were doing to come up with a vaccine. Dr. Abumrad’s son, Jad Abumrad, is the creator of “Radiolab” and host of the podcast “Dolly Parton’s America.”

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