- When the renowned radio personality and Grand Ole Opry fixture Bill Cody walked onto the stage at the Ryman Auditorioum to welcome Dolly Parton there for the first time in twelve years, he called her "the most beloved artist of all time." Then he quickly, almost imperceptibly, corrected himself, adding a qualifier: female artist." Who knows what flashed in Cody's mind in that moment — perhaps the face of Johnny Cash, the patron saint of believers in musical authenticity, or of hallowed originator Hank Williams, or affable current standard-bearer George Strait. Or maybe the thought wasn't even that formed. His words simply reflected the status quo. Country, like rock, rap, symphonic music, literary writing and virtually every other art world whose reach goes beyond the domestic sphere, has always honored men as more central and more real, defenders of the paradigms that women may expand or even challenge, but never originate.
On this night, however, Dolly Parton and her fans didn't let those presumptions bother them, not for one minute. The Mother Church of Country Music became the Church of Dolly.