Grammy Award-winning singer Dolly Parton appeared in a recent TV interview and revealed how she invested the royalties she earned from Whitney Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You." The 75-year-old, who appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on Thursday, said she used the funds to buy a large office complex in a Black neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, CNN reported.
"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," she said. "It was just off the beaten path from 16th Avenue and I thought, 'Well I am going to buy this place, the whole strip mall.' And thought, 'This is the perfect place for me to be,' considering it was Whitney."
According to The Washington Post, the legendary musician purchased the 6,317-square-foot complex in Nashville in 1997. During Thursday's interview, Patron was answering lighthearted questions about her wig collection when the discussion shifted to her investments.
"I bought my big office complex down in Nashville. I thought this is a wonderful place to be," she said. "I'm just going to be down here with her people who are my people as well. And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, 'This is the house that Whitney built.'"
Parton wrote and performed "I Will Always Love You" in 1973. However, the song took off globally after Houston covered it for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. Parton earned $10 million in royalties for the ballad, which spent 14 weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, according to Forbes.
In her latest interview, the iconic country singer said she wishes she could have performed "I Will Always Love You" with Houston, who died in 2012 at the age of 48.
"I would've loved that, but I don't think I could come up to snuff with her, though. She would've outsung me on that one for sure," The “Jolene” singer said.
The Nashville investment is a part of the singer's ongoing outreach effort in various neighborhoods. Last year, the 75-year-old donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University, helping fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.
David Ewing, a longtime Nashville historian, said Parton has always been invested in the Black community.
“We’re just hearing now, because of the Black Lives Matter movement, how down for the cause Dolly has always been — even when others in the music industry weren’t,” Ewing told The Washington Post. “Dolly Parton could have built and bought any piece of property in Nashville. But you would have to have gone out of your way to buy in the 12 South neighborhood, because no Realtor would have shown Dolly that lot to buy.”
The historian adds that the neighborhood was “African American funeral homes, businesses and churches.” But the area has become more lively with the artist's investment.
“It really kind of all began to be put on the map when Dolly quietly invested in the area,” Ewing said. “She’s never cared about race or gender or the other things people in the South have judged or restricted others about. The fact that Dolly would buy in what was a Black neighborhood was a very Dolly thing to do.”