It’s almost like clockwork; if you ask an up-an-coming female artist about their musical and artistic heroes, with good reason, Dolly Parton’s name will be on their list. Since releasing her debut album in 1967, Parton has been a staple in country music and pop culture alike, and has paved the way for many of the females that have followed her, both sonically and how she has conducted herself over those 53 years.
Azle, Texas native Tori Martin was not immune from Parton’s influence. In fact, her newest single, “What Would Dolly Do?” pays homage to Parton and how she has influenced Martin in her career.
With three top 25 singles already under her belt in Texas, Martin has her sights set high for her newest single, but for the first time in her career, isn’t feeling the pressure that comes with releasing new music.
“It was very exciting to have Texas radio love the songs I was putting out so quickly! I would love to see ‘What Would Dolly Do?’ rise on the charts and potentially surpass my previous success,” says Martin. “For the first time, I don’t feel any pressure about it. I think the song is great and stands on its own! If it does as good or better than previous releases, that would be amazing. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve released a song to radio, and this time I’m just enjoying the ride!”
“What Would Dolly Do?” is sonically unique for Martin. She admittedly draws inspiration from multiple genres, but with her new single, she tapped heavily into a more classic country sound, which she attributes to Parton’s influence.
“I love to be a chameleon with music, but always stay true to my country roots. I love all genres of music, but country is at the core of who I am! My last single ‘Living the Dream’ was written with pop melodies and leaned in that direction,” says Martin. “When I wrote ‘What Would Dolly Do?’ with John Cirillo and Sarah Spencer, we wanted to pay total homage to Dolly Parton. I immediately heard the song with a traditional country flare. I’m excited to share my forthcoming album as I feel it really shows who I am as an artist and all the different sides to my music!”
Though Parton’s influence is clear sonically, it also lives in the song’s lyrics; describing Parton’s influence on Martin since she was young.
“Dolly has always inspired me since I was a young girl; from her music, songwriting and even just who she is as a person,” says Martin. “Last summer, I spent my birthday at Dollywood and visited her museum. There were many amazing things to learn about Dolly’s life, but something that stuck out to me were handwritten letters Dolly wrote to her parents. She wrote to them about first moving to Nashville, people showing interest in her songs and about life on the road with Porter Wagoner. It brought things into perspective that Dolly has walked in my shoes and has been exactly where I’m at!”
Martin says that beyond paying homage to Parton, “What Would Dolly Do?” also serves as inspiration for how she wants to conduct and handle herself in her career.
“Dolly has taught me so much about music and about business. Whenever a tough situation presents, I stand a little taller and tell myself, ‘Okay Tori, what would Dolly do?’” says Martin. “It really has been a mantra to help in my career path, but I also hope the song inspires others to be bold, strong and to never give up on your dreams.”
In just two months since its release, “What Would Dolly Do?” has already become Martin’s top-streamed song on Spotify, earning over 30,000 streams connecting with listeners in a current global situation where positivity is always welcome.
“It has been so exciting! It really is an honor to have this song connect with so many fans,” says Martin. “In our current situation with COVID-19, I think everyone is searching for hope and happiness. In my opinion, this song has been a light through a very dark time. I’ll never forget it either!”
Martin just completed her “What Would Dolly Do?” social media contest, where listeners sent videos of themselves lip syncing or singing along with the song, which provided Martin new entertainment during this worldwide down time.
“Our intent was to share joy and to have some fun during our time of self-quarantine,” says Martin. “It has been so fun to watch their videos!”
“What Would Dolly Do” serves as the lead single to Martin’s forthcoming album Lucky, which she says is the best snapshot of who she is as an artist.
“I’m so excited to share this new album! I can’t give an official release date as things have been pushed back by the hit of COVID-19, but it is still releasing this summer! “What Would Dolly Do?” is the first release from the new album, Lucky,” says Martin. “I feel like more than ever that I’ve found my sound, honed my craft and I’m ready to share this project with the world. I talked about being a chameleon earlier, and it’s exciting to share all the different parts of who I am as an artist.”
While there are plenty of questions about what the near future has in store, Martin is using her time to set up for success as she continues to find it with her music.
“Everyone in the music industry has definitely taken a hit. I had many exciting plans that, of course, have been affected, however, I’m an optimist and love to make lemonade when life hands me lemons,” says Martin. “There is so much going on behind the scenes that I can’t disclose yet, but I can’t wait to share. Although this year looks different than I planned, there are many monumental goals and dreams I’m scratching off my list. I’m thankful for this time because a setback always gives you the opportunity to set up for success!”
As we all adapt to the new normal 2020 is giving us, Martin says that supporting the artists you love is essential as they find new ways to bring their music to the public.
“During this time, it’s important to support your favorite artists by streaming their music, tuning in to their live shows on social media and sharing them with your friends!” says Martin. “As music lovers, the show must go on, just in different ways!”