11 Feb 2019

Grammy festival kicks off with honour for Dolly Parton

7:01 am on 11 February 2019

Nobody pokes more fun at Dolly Parton - all hair, sequins, 22cm nails and 13cm stilettos - than the country superstar herself.

Dolly Parton accepts her award at MusiCares Person of the Year on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Dolly Parton says her career has been a wonderful journey. Photo: AP

Parton was celebrated for her musical achievements and philanthropic work as MusiCares Person of the Year. She's the first country artist to be saluted in the tribute's 29-year history.

Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Miley Cyrus, Shawn Mendes, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Katy Perry, Pink, Chris Stapleton and Don Henley were among those honouring the 73-year-old singer-songwriter before the Grammy Awards that take place tomorrow.

"All of my life I have been known for two things. Well, not them," the well-endowed Ms Parton joked in her acceptance speech. "I've also been known as a singer and songwriter too. Although I'm not complaining. Ol' Pancho and Lefty's been pretty good to me. Everybody always expects me to do a boob joke and I like to do that right up front."

Surprising Ms Parton with her award and earning a standing ovation were Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, who teamed with Parton for two successful Trio albums. It was a rare public appearance for Ronstadt, who can't sing anymore because of Parkinson's disease, which Parton mentioned.

"It has been a wonderful journey," Ms Parton said.

As Ms Parton rushed to embrace Harris and Ronstadt, her award crashed to the floor. It appeared to survive intact.

Pink performs "Jolene" at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton , at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Pink was the first performer of the night. Photo: AP

Ms Parton said people ask her about it being a man's world when she got into the music business in the 1960s.

"I never met a man that I didn't like and I never met a man whose (rear) I couldn't kick if he didn't treat me with the right respect," she said, drawing raucous cheers.

Earlier, Ms Parton watched from the audience while other performers sampled her vast catalogue.

Wearing a black jacket with Parton's visage on the back, Pink kicked off the evening with a powerhouse rendition of the man-stealing song Jolene.

Gospel singer Yolanda Adams received a standing ovation for I Will Always Love You, the Parton-penned song famously covered by Whitney Houston.

Yolanda Adams performs "I Will Always Love You" at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Dolly Parton

Yolanda Adams was among the performers of Dolly Parton's work. Photo: AP

Ms Cyrus, who is Ms Parton's goddaughter, and Mr Mendes dueted on Islands in the Stream with Mark Ronson on guitar. Grammy nominee Ms Carlile and Mr Nelson sang Everything's Beautiful (In Its Own Way).

Backed by a horn section, Mr Stapleton tackled 9 to 5, getting the audience clapping along to Parton's ode to empowered yet challenged working women.

Backed by a choir, Leon Bridges and Mavis Staples took the crowd to church on Not Enough. Mr Bridges got into the spirit of the evening with white cowboy boots and a denim jacket with his name and a white horse on the back and red barn patch on the front.

"It's been such a thrill for me tonight to see all these great artists singing songs I've written or been a part of," Ms Parton said.

She closed the evening by performing Coat of Many Colours.

"I had my nails too long to pick tonight because I'm gettin' ready for the Grammys," Ms Parton explained in having Linda Perry play guitar.

The event at the Los Angeles Convention Centre generated more than $US6.7 million ($NZ9.9m), Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said.

MusiCares, run by the Recording Academy, provides financial assistance to people in the music industry during times of financial, medical and personal need.

"Of course you know we hillbillies need MusiCares too," Ms Parton said.

"We may not have sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, but two out of three ain't bad."

- AP