Dolly Parton's upcoming rock album, "Rockstar" is a passion project she said she was inspired to create after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.
The legendary hitmaker said she was also influenced to make the new record by her husband of 57 years, Carl Dean, a lifelong fan of rock music.
Parton opened up on her husband's impact on her music, as well as the key to their successful marriage and her commitment to proving her rock chops in her new 30-track album in ABC News' 15th annual CMA Awards special, "Dolly Parton: From Rhinestones to Rock & Roll."
The special airs Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
Parton's induction into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sparks rock album
When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2022 nominees were announced last year, Parton famously asked to be removed from consideration for induction, saying at the time, "I don't feel that I have earned that right."
"I have a lot of friends that are in the rock music, and I know a lot of the rock artists that have never been put in the Hall of Fame that really should be and they always wanted to be – and some of 'em are even a little bitter about not being," she explained. "So I knew how important that was to them."
She continued, "I'd spent my life in country music and I'm happy to accept anything, 'cause I work hard in that world. But I did not feel that I should go in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame …. then they explained to me why. Because it's the people's music that are not rock artists that have influenced other people, like Willie and all that. Well, when they explained it, I said, 'Well, I will accept it graciously … if they're giving it to me anyway.'"
This realization – and her eventual induction into the prestigious hall – also sparked a desire in her to take a chance in making her first rock album. She said that she wanted to make sure she felt like she earned her place in the institution – and she wanted to make her fans proud.
"I did it for them. I did it for me. I did it for Carl," she said. "But I did it because I'm in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can't be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and not try to earn that. Honestly, I feel like that. And I feel like I earned my keep. That's why I tried so hard to, you know, to make it good."
Her husband's influence on the album
Along with her desire to record the album due to her induction, Parton said her husband, who she's been with for 59 years, and his appreciation for rock 'n' roll played a factor.
"From the time I met him in 1964 -- he just had rock and roll blasting. That's his music," she told Roberts.
"I grew up with him, you know, through the years with him of just hearing all that great music," Parton continued. "Of course I knew about rock before, in my early days – Elvis and Jerry Lee and all of them – but it was Carl that really made me make that final decision to think, 'You know what? I've got this great opportunity to do this, and I'm just gonna do it.'"
Her 30-track album features nine original tracks and 21 covers of iconic rock songs. Parton said that most of the songs she covered are songs that her husband "liked and loved."
"Most of these songs I chose because of Carl, and because I knew they were good songs, 'cause he knows good music," she said. "He does."
She said that she worked with her longtime musical director and producer Kent Wells because she wanted to make sure the project wasn't "just country Dolly that's done some other rock things before."
"This had to be serious and I just dug right down and asked God to lead me," she said. Parton reflected on when she previously covered Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," back in 2002, adding a bluegrass flare to the iconic song, and she said her husband was not a big fan of the cover. The singer said she hoped with this album that she would nail the rock covers in his eyes.
"So I did it again in this rock album and was true to it – and when I played it for him he said, 'You know, I gotta say, that's pretty good.' So for him to say, 'That's pretty good,' he meant it's really good. And that meant more to me than for anybody else to say the record was good."
The singer said they are extremely honest in their relationship and one of the keys to their successful marriage is their "great respect" for each other.
"We both have a great sense of humor like this and we both just have fun being together," Parton said. "Our tastes are different in things but that works great, because we have -- it gives us stuff to talk about. But we have our things that are perfect together, and that's been the strength of it. And we love each other."
Learn more about Parton's upcoming album in the ABC News special, "Dolly Parton: From Rhinestones to Rock & Roll."