Linda Ronstadt makes surprise appearance to honor Dolly Parton as 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARASLinda Ronstadt surprised Dolly Parton by appearing with Emmylou Harris to present her with the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year honor Friday night in Los Angeles.

Though she’s no longer able to sing because of Parkinson’s disease, Ronstadt seemed to look and feel good, according to Billboard, even laughing when Dolly accidentally dropped her award on her foot.

Little Big Town hosted the musical extravaganza at the L.A. Convention Center, as a varied collection of artists paid tribute to Dolly by covering her classic songs.

“She epitomizes everything in music, fashion, film, entertainment,” LBT’s Phillip Sweet points out. “And just, she’s a great businesswoman. But most of all, she’s the most genuine, kind human being. And she exuded that to everyone. And she makes you feel like a friend, and that’s the most special gift.”

Garth Brooks, who did “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You,” with wife Trisha Yearwood, explains it’s not necessarily easy to recreate the Dolly catalog.

“It’s tough to sing Dolly songs, because she does them so well…” Garth reflects. “Dolly has some licks that nobody’s ever touched. Like the Beatles have chord progressions nobody’s touched yet, Dolly still has licks nobody’s touched yet. She’s so far ahead of her time.”

Trisha agrees: “Nobody’s gonna go ‘Man, they really nailed that Dolly [song] better than Dolly.’ No. We’re just here to say thank you and pay tribute.”

Jennifer Nettles teamed up with Cam and Margo Price to recreate “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” one of the songs Dolly, Linda and Emmylou recorded for their Trio projects.

“Obviously her art speaks for itself,” Jennifer says. “It touches our hearts. It feels like her songs feel like our stories and our lives.”

Dolly in turn was touched by the evening’s performances, delivering an eight-minute acceptance speech that was peppered with her signature humor.

“Watching [these performances] is sort of like watching porn,” she quipped. “You’re not personally involved, but you still get off on it. I really got off on this show tonight.” 

Dolly herself closed the show doing “Coat of Many Colors” with Linda Perry, her collaborator on the new Dumplin’ soundtrack.

In all, the evening raised $6.7 million for MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable arm that helps members of the music community in times of need.

Here’s the complete set list for the 2019 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Dolly Parton:

“Jolene” — P!nk
“Everything is Beautiful (In Its Own Way)” — Willie Nelson & Brandi Carlile
“The Seeker” — Lauren Daigle
“Islands in the Stream” — Miley Cyrus, Shawn Mendes & Mark Ronson
“9 To 5” — Chris Stapleton
“Here You Come Again” — Katy Perry & Kacey Musgraves
“The Grass is Blue” — Norah Jones w/ Puss N Boots
“Eagle When She Flies” — Don Henley & Vince Gill
“Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You” — Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood
“Not Enough” — Mavis Staples, Leon Bridges and Jon Batiste
“I Will Always Love You” — Yolanda Adams
“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” — Cam, Jennifer Nettles and Margo Price
“Coat of Many Colors” — Dolly Parton & Linda Perry

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.