Behind the scenes: Stars prepare for Dolly Parton’s wildfire telethon

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Dolly Parton and some of her famous friends are coming together Tuesday night to raise money for families who lost everything in the Sevier County fires.

“Smoky Mountains Rise” airs at 8 p.m. on WATE 6 On Your Side. Proceeds will go to Parton’s My People Fund, which will give $1,000 per month for up to six months to families who lost their primary residence, whether they owned their home or rented.

Related: Dolly Parton organizes Nashville telethon for Sevier County fire victims

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Lori Tucker caught up with Parton and several of the other artists behind the scenes Tuesday as they prepared for the telethon. Parton explained what she would say to Sevier County residents grateful for her efforts to help.

“I say it’s the least I can do. These are my people. This is my home. And I’m in a position to help, and I should help. And I’m thrilled to death that it’s worked out so that I can help. And the fact that I’ve had so many of my friends come forward… country music artists are just amazing with anytime we have any kind of problem anywhere, they’re all just willing to help. They all just dove in and said, ‘What can we do?'” said Parton. “So the ones who aren’t performing, they’re answering phones. And they said just tell us what to do, we’ll do it.”

“When we say we love Dolly Parton, we do with every part of our being because she is so genuine and she is so authentic,” said bluegrass star and longtime friend Rhonda Vincent.

Parton says she hasn’t had a chance to get back to Sevier County yet because of her concert tour and the telethon, but will be there for the holidays.

“I have not had a chance yet because we’ve been on tour. And since we’ve gotten back, every minute has been spent on this telethon. But I always go home for Christmas. So I’ll be home between now and the first of the year, and I’ll be seeing all the damage and all the things that was spared and I’ll get to see my people. And I’ll get to spend Christmas with my family in those warm cozy houses. But we know there are so many this time of year who aren’t going to get to have Christmas in a warm cozy house, because they’re gone. So that’s why it’s so important to do what we can. I’m sure I’ll be devastated when I see it,” she said.

Parton hopes to raise $10 to $13 million Tuesday night with enough left over to help people with other necessities.

“A lot of people lost their cars. A lot of people need gas money. A lot of people need transportation back and forth. There’s animal shelters. A lot people don’t really realize how many needs there are. So that’s our goal, but that money will all go to the devastation from the fires.”

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