‘The House That Whitney Built’: Dolly Parton Invested $10M from Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ Royalties Into Black Communities

Legendary country singer Dolly Parton recently revealed that when it came time to spend the money she’d earned in royalties from Whitney Houston‘s cover of “I Will Always Love You,” the late singer played a massive role in how the funds were used. 

During a July 29 appearance on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” the singer reflected on the hit single originally written and performed by the 75-year-old back in 1978. However, when Houston covered it for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” it took on a whole new life, becoming one of the most successful songs in history. According to Forbes, it earned the “Jolene” songstress nearly $10 million in royalties and has only increased over the years. 

Parton told host Andy Cohen she poured those funds back into the Black community in Nashville. “I bought my big office complex down in Nashville. I bought a property down in what was the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there,” the Grammy award winner explained regarding her best investment, as captured by Yahoo. “And it was off the beaten path from 16th Avenue. And I thought, ‘Well, I am going to buy this place, the whole strip mall. ‘So I thought, well, this is a wonderful place to be,’ considering it was Whitney.”

She continued, “So I just thought this was great. I’m just gonna be down here with her people, who are my people as well. And so, I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.'”

Elsewhere, Parton said though never asked, she would’ve loved to have performed the famous record with the late star, but she humbly admitted that “I don’t think I could come up to snuff with her though,” adding, “She would’ve outsung me on that one for sure.”

The country icon often has spoken on how she felt the moment she heard Houston’s version and how the singer helped her see her value as a songwriter, telling People last year, “Whitney did such a fantastic job. And I thought, ‘Wow. I wrote that little song.’ That’s when I felt my worth as a songwriter.” She added, “This is my gift, and I’m going to do the best I can with it.” 

Back to top