On the Money

Dolly Parton is back on the charts, and she means business

Dolly Parton performs on August 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
Daniel Boczarski | Getty Images

Hello Dolly!

In her fifth decade in the entertainment industry, country music singer Dolly Parton is back at the top of the charts.

Parton just released her 43rd studio recording, "Pure & Simple," a collection of love songs to mark the singer's 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year. It debuted at the #1 spot on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and, like most of her work, features songs written and produced by the singer herself and inspired by her own experience.

"When you've lived a good story," the prolific songwriter told CNBC's "On the Money" in a recent interview, "it's easy to tell it."

Parton is a seven-time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 100 million records globally. She's also been business savvy enough to retain control over her career decisions as well as her song-writing catalog.

Parton estimates she's written thousands of songs since she was a child. Her first of twenty-five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Country Music Chart was "Joshua" in 1971.

"Early on in my career, I realized that I needed to pay mind to my product, because I'm a songwriter," Parton explained. "As soon as I could, in my early-early days, I started my own publishing company," added Parton.

Hello Dolly!
Hello Dolly!

She founded the Owe-Par Publishing Company at age 20 with her uncle, Tennessee singer Bill Owens, and retained a controlling interest from the start. She's also operated the independent Dolly Records label for the past decade.

"I have a little more control of what's going on. I like to be able to pick and choose who I work with and to have some say-so in my life," said the artist, who made one surprising but prescient executive decision decades ago.

Dolly Parton said no to the King of Rock and Roll.

Following the success of the 1974 release of her song "I Will Always Love You," and long before Whitney Houston's version became one of the best-selling singles of all time, Elvis Presley expressed interest in recording his own version of the love song.

The catch? Presley's management asked for a 50 percent stake in the song's publishing royalties. To Parton the songwriter, that was asking too much.

"I'd already had a hit record (of the song)," Parton explained. "It was my most important copyright at the time. It broke my heart to say 'no,' but I did say 'no.' And as years went by, I was glad I did."

Gems | Redferns | Getty Images

Parton's entrepreneurship has continued from her early days guarding her publishing rights. The founder of the Dollywood theme park empire is also a veteran film and television producer, who continues to find success close to home.

The surprise ratings success of NBC's 2015 television movie "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors"— based on a Parton song and reaching more than 13 million viewers in its first airing during last year's holiday season – reintroduced the country singer to the world as an entertainment mogul.

A sequel film is slated to air this holiday season, and Parton has struck a development deal with NBC to produce future projects based on stories from her life, and the catalog of songs she safeguards. (NBC is owned by Comcast, the parent company of CNBC).

"I've lived an amazing life, so I have a lot of stories to tell," she said.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.