Dolly Parton began performing as a child, singing on local radio and television programs in the Eastern Tennessee area. By age nine, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At thirteen, she was recording (the single “Puppy Love”) on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. It was at the Opry that she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to go where her heart took her and not to care what others thought. The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville taking many traditional elements of folklore and popular music from East Tennessee with her.
Parton’s initial success came as a songwriter, writing two top ten hits with her uncle Bill Owens: Bill Phillips’s “Put it off Until Tomorrow” and Skeeter Davis’ 1967 hit “Fuel to the Flame”. She also wrote a minor chart hit for Hank Williams Jr during this period. She had signed with Monument Records in late 1965, where she was initially pitched as a bubblegum pop singer, earning only one national-chart single, “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby”, which did not crack the Billboard Hot 100.
The label agreed to let Parton sing country music after her composition, “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” as recorded by Bill Phillips (and with Parton, uncredited, on harmony), went to number six on the country music charts in 1966. Her first country single, “Dumb Blonde” (one of the few songs during this era, that she recorded but did not write), reached number twenty-four on the country music charts in 1967, followed the same year with Something Fishy, which went to number seventeen. The two songs anchored her first full-length album, Hello, I’m Dolly.