The news that the coronavirus vaccine developed by the U.S. corporation Moderna was co-sponsored by country and western singer Dolly Parton was made a little more surreal by a surreal year.
Does she have a deep epidemiological interest?
And not as such. But she is known for her philanthropy, and Moderna’s financial impetus came from a $1 million (EUR 752,000) donation made by the 74-year-old to the Medical Center of Vanderbilt University in her hometown of Nashville. It was one of the vaccine’s major testing sites, which has a 95% efficacy score. When news of her kindness came to light, she said, “I’m very proud today that I had anything at all to do with something that will help us through this crazy pandemic,”
Why the medicinal interest?
Parton became involved in the university’s work when she learned about it from a neighbor, Dr. Naji Abumrad, a professor of surgery there, according to the New York Times. After she was in a minor car accident, she met him. The son of Abumrad, Jad, is now a U.S. radio host and host of the popular American Dolly Parton podcast. Part biography, part cultural study, the starting point for Abumrad was to question why Parton remains such an icon – and it has proved to be quite a success.
So why is she a symbol of this kind?
Where are you starting? The body of work speaks for itself, with 51 Grammy nominations and 11 wins in a 50-year career. There are also her aforementioned philanthropic projects, such as the Imagination Library of Dolly Parton, which gives children free books from birth to school entrance. And, of course, in the suggestively titled Knoxville-Smoky Mountains Metroplex in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, she has her own theme park, Dollywood.
What was your reaction?
Those who are familiar with Parton’s track record and all-around coolness aren’t particularly surprised, but if there’s anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard of it, her fans have taken to Twitter to break the news. During the plague, Shakespeare may have written King Lear, but Dolly Parton funded a Covid vaccine, released a Christmas album and a special Christmas,”Shakespeare may have written King Lear during the plague, but Dolly Parton has funded a Covid vaccine, released a Christmas album and a Christmas special,” Another wrote, “I want everyone to know that Dolly Parton gave us the television series Buffy, the song 9 to 5, Dollywood and, of course, the Covid vaccine.”
Back, Woah. Buffy The Slayer of Vampires?
Oh yeah, the 1990s cult series in which Sarah Michelle Gellar fought the undead at the fictitious Sunnydale High School was another beneficiary of Parton’s benefits. The name of Parton never appeared in the credits, but a hint was the fact that she and Buffy share the same birthday – January 19th.
Does that surely deserve a song?
Funnily enough, she’s got one too. In homage, a nice version of Parton’s 1973 hit Jolene was composed by Boston English professor Ryan Cordell and linguist and author Gretchen McCulloch, and Cordell filmed himself singing it. “Vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiine, I’m beggin’ of you please go in my arm …”Vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiii, I’m starting with you, please go into my arm…