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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 her. She gave memorable on-screen performances as a hairstylist and harassed secretary. She even helped create “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

Now Dolly Parton fans are crediting her for saving the world from the coronavirus. This is an exaggerated and ironic claim, of course. But for legions of admirers, Ms Parton’s donation this spring to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with drugmaker Moderna to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, was another example of how generosity and The singer’s 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, released a Christmas album and a Christmas special,” 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 of Nashville, told her about the work researchers were doing to develop a vaccine. Dr. Abumrad’s son Jad Abumrad is the creator of “Radiolab” and the host of the podcast “Dolly Parton’s America”.

Her contribution, known as the Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund, helped fund the first part of vaccine research, led by Dr Mark Denison, professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt. The federal government ultimately invested $ 1 billion in creating and testing the vaccine, but Dr Denison said it was Ms Parton’s money that funded the early “critical” stages of the research.

“His money helped us develop the test that we used to show that the Moderna vaccine gave people a good immune response that could protect them,” Dr Denison said Tuesday.

On Monday, after Moderna announced that the first trials of the vaccine had shown an efficacy rate of 94.5%, fans reacted with delight.

“I want everyone to know that Dolly Parton gave us Buffy the TV series, the 9 to 5 song, Dollywood, and of course the Covid vaccine,” wrote a fan on Twitter.

Ryan Cordell, Associate Professor of English at Northeastern University in Boston, filmed himself singing a song about the vaccine to the tune of “Jolene”.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiine, I beg you, go into my arm,” he sang, while playing guitar and describing the virus as “incomparable with shards of Covid-spiked auburn hair , this emerald green crown. “

The lyrics were written by linguist Gretchen McCulloch, author of “Because the Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language”.

She said she wrote the lyrics in part because the song “Jolene”, about one woman begging another not to steal her man, has the “same hopeless feeling” that the pandemic has instilled in so many people.

Now Ms McCulloch is hoping Ms Parton could release her own vaccine song, she said.

“If Dolly Parton wants to record a PSA vaccine to the tune of ‘Jolene’,” she said, “I think everyone would be very happy.”

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