It was the week that Dolly Parton helped out the world with a vaccine for Covid-19, because of course it was. There could be no finer coda to this gruesome year than for it to be revealed that Parton had partly funded the research that led to the Moderna vaccine, currently topping the charts at 94.5% efficacy.
In April, Parton donated $1m (£750,000) to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. She discovered that this had gone towards funding the vaccine when the name of her foundation, the Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund, surely the jolliest name for a scientific research body ever, appeared on the report.
I have recommended this more times than I can remember, but for an in-depth insight to how Parton manages to appeal across almost every divide, the 2019 podcast Dolly Parton’s America is fascinating and vital. (In a vaccine/podcast crossover, the presenter is Jad Abumrad, whose father, Dr Naji Abumrad, is professor of surgery at Vanderbilt and a friend of Parton’s, who inspired her to donate the $1m.)
It paints a portrait of a woman who is canny and kind, politically adept and preternaturally smart, and it goes a long way towards explaining why she is so loved by so many people, from all walks of life, in many countries. I find myself suspicious of those who claim not to like Parton or her music and suspect it is largely a contrary position to take for the sake of it, like not having a television or insisting that you enjoy the taste of mustard.…