Geelong’s music lovers may remember Dolly Diamond from her appearance on the Geelong Arts Centre’s livestream last year, and will have the chance to see her on stage in the flesh from tonight (Thursday, February 18).
Diamond will bring two performances of Parton Me – her tribute to the Queen of Country Music, Dolly Parton – to the big top in the Geelong Arts Centre’s Summer Sessions program.
Speaking from her home in Melbourne, where she’s waiting out the lockdown – “Well, all the old memories are back, you know, but it’s got to be done” – Diamond said her love of the American music legend started at a young age.
“I grew up listening to Dolly – well, I’m named after her, you know. Growing up in England, looking at those album covers offered a life that was very, very different from mine – all those sparkly outfits – and I just loved that music, it allowed me to go somewhere else in my mind that wasn’t where I lived.
“It was a bit bleak growing up in London as a girl, and it was just wonderful to be able to escape.
“Ever since then I’ve loved Dolly’s music, she writes all her own music and her longevity of her career is just incredible; she’s still releasing music now.”
One of Australia’s finest comedy cabaret talents, Diamond has called Australia home since 2009 and became an Australian citizen in 2014.
She said Parton Me, which will be performed with a four-piece band, was not an attempt to re-create a Dolly Parton show on stage.
“My aim was never to get up there and try to be Dolly Parton. It’s just an appreciation of her music, and I weave it in with my own stories. It’s not really a look back at everything that Dolly Parton has done – you can get that from Google – my show is my stories and Dolly’s music.
“A lot of what I’ve been doing lately has been making sure that I’ve got nothing about coronavirus or anything like that in anything that I perform. I think one of my jobs is to get everybody’s mind off everything we’re going through.”
Diamond was the first performer in the Geelong Arts Centre’s month-long Where Creativity Meets at Home series in May 2020.
“It was very odd, it was right in the beginning when all you could do was look at the camera and imagine everyone was watching,” she said.
“It’s very difficult for us as performers not getting that immediate feedback which we love, you know.
“So getting this opportunity to be there with an audience – it looks like a lovely outdoor arena set – it’s going to be amazing.
“I’m always very grateful for what I’ve got; I’m one of those people. And I think this has made a lot of us appreciate what we’ve really, really got. Being able to get up there and do what we do, when we’re allowed to do it, is a gift, and I don’t think any of us will take it for granted any more.”
Dolly Diamond will perform Parton Me on Thursday, February 18 at 6.30pm and Saturday, February 20 at 9pm.
For tickets, head to geelongartscentre.org.au.