Dolly Parton, country icon… and savior of America?

She is “Singer, songwriter and … savior”, venture it New York Times. “Dolly Parton will save America again”, writes Vanity Fair. Almost a year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the queen of country music seems to have done more to fight the coronavirus than Donald Trump or Joe Biden. And for good reason: the singer, who’s at the head of a multi-million dollar empire, donated a million dollars of his personal fortune to help research into the coronavirus vaccine.

Ryan Cordell, an associate professor of English at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the first to pay him tribute, in music, as it should be. On November 17, he posted a video on Twitter in which he played an edited version of Jolene. For the occasion, the iconic song by Dolly Parton is renamed Vaccine and the academic was based on lyrics written by linguist and author Gretchen McCulloch, who uploaded them and invited internet users to record them. In this new version, the lyrics have become:

« Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine/
I’m begging of you, please go in my arm/
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine/
Please just keep me safe from Covid harm. »

In April, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, VUMC) in Nashville, Tennessee, revealed that it had received a donation of $ 1 million (approximately € 844,000) for coronavirus research from Dolly Parton, “In honor of his lifelong friend: Doctor Naji Abumrad”.

Their meeting took place seven years earlier, on October 21, 2013. At the end of the morning, the singer had been the victim of a car accident. Benin, certainly, sufficient for it to be sent to the VUMC, for some examinations. It was there that she met Doctor Naji Abumrad. This Lebanese-American doctor, professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University knew little or nothing about the country music star, but during their discussions, they became friends.

A drop of water in the funding committed

At the start of the pandemic, Dolly Parton asked Naji Abumrad what could be done to study the virus. “Honestly, I never had to ask for his research support, says Naji Abumrad in the Washington Post. It was she who suggested it. His funding has made research for the vaccine go ten times faster than it would without him. “

Naji Abumrad told him about “Exciting developments” carried out as part of the first research on vaccines by a team at Vanderbilt led by Mark Denison, physician and professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology. For his part, Mark Denison tells the New York Times that Dolly Parton’s donation was instrumental in funding the early stages « critiques » research and testing.

Part of the funds were used to finance trials of the vaccine developed by the company Moderna – a drop in the bucket when you remember that the company received nearly a billion dollars of public money -, who thanks the « Dolly Parton Covid-19 Research Fund », in the publication of its results in the New England Journal of Medecine.

Read also: Moderna announces that its vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective

Yet Dolly Parton is not the only one to have put her hand in the wallet to support research against the coronavirus. The Clara Lionel Foundation, by Rihanna, and the Fondation Shawn Carter of Jay-Z have each donated to several organizations fighting the pandemic.

And there is an emergency: Thursday, November 19, the United States reached the mark of 250,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19 for more than 11.5 million cases identified since the start of the pandemic, according to the baseline count of Johns Hopkins University. More than double the number of American soldiers killed in World War I.

Dolly Parton, rallying point of a disoriented America

This is not the first time that the singer ” Safe “ America. In a country more divided than ever, she celebrated, in 2019, “Love, family, faith and forgiveness” in a series called Sensitive cords (Heartstrings), broadcast on Netflix. Through a series of podcasts, American public radio stations have also explored ” America by Dolly Parton », That of an enigmatic woman who cultivates wonderfully ” at the same time “, loved by everyone, rallying point for conservatives and liberals, “giant clam frogs” and the LGBT community. The series was produced and hosted by … Jad Abumrad, the son of Professor Naji Abumrad.

At 74, the great lady of country does not intend to stop there: after the release in early October of A Holly Dolly Christmas, a CD of Christmas carols, she returns to Netflix on November 22 with a film titled Dolly Parton: it’s Christmas with us (Dolly Parton’s Christmas). Still, for the author of these lines, the best cover of Jolene remains that of White Stripes. Even Dolly Parton agreed, in 2016, in an interview with Guardian.

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