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Dolly Parton says upcoming rock album is ‘some of the best work’ she’s ever done

The queen of country music raves about the genre-hopping record she has in the works. 

There’s good news for Dolly Parton fans who’ve been wondering if her upcoming rock ‘n’ roll release will be just as good as the music they’re used to hearing from the country icon.

It might even be better.

And that early assessment comes straight from the prolific singer-songwriter herself.

“I really think it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done,” Parton revealed when she sat down with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb. “I think so. Only because it’s different for me. I wanted it to be good.”

Inductee Dolly Parton performs during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Dolly Parton performs during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello / AP

Her husband of 56 years, rock lover Carl Dean, certainly hopes it is.

"Well, he’s praying for me, I think," she said with a laugh. "I guess he’s hoping I can pull it off." 

The 76-year-old recording artist recently revealed that Dean is the inspiration behind much of the music she's selected for the album. But he wasn’t the only reason she decided to rock out.

The idea behind it all came to her only after she was nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, an honor she initially declined.

"I never thought of myself as a rock star," she noted of her first reaction to the news. "I found out later that they give it to you if you’ve influenced other people. I found out more about it. But I had said at the start I didn’t want to accept it because I didn’t think I’d earned it. And still ain’t sure."

On Nov. 5, Parton was inducted all the same.

"I thought, 'Well, if they wanna give it to me anyhow, I’m going to accept it gracefully,'" she told Hoda. "And then I’m gonna go ahead and do a rock album and just make the most of it.”

The album is set for a 2023 release, and it's just one of the things she's looking forward to in the year ahead.

"My hopes for the new year is a little more kindness, a little more love and a little more tryin’ to pull together instead of falling apart," the "Jolene" singer explained. "I’m gonna try my best to try to bring as much joy as I can, and lift people up as much as I can in my way. I just think we all need to try a little harder. I don’t care what our politics are or religion or our color or anything else."

She said that's her New Year's resolution, "To try to make as much of that happen as I can through songs or through giving or through whatever it may be."

And when it comes to giving, Parton, an avid philanthropist, just received some unexpected funding to help her do even more of that than she already does.

On Nov. 12, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his partner, Lauren Sanchez, awarded Parton $100 million as part of the Bezos Courage and Civility Award.

"I said, 'Are you telling me that you’re giving me $100 million for my charities?'" Parton recalled. "And he said, 'Yeah, that’s what I’m telling you. No strings attached, except that it all has to go to charity.' And I started to cry on the phone. I was just thinkin’ of all the great things that I could do for so many needy people. And I just thought, 'Wow, thank you, God.'” 

See more from Parton on New Year's Eve, as she joins her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, to co-host "Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party" on NBC.