WATCH: Dolly Parton Used Royalties from Whitney Houston’s Rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to Invest in Nashville’s Black Community

Dolly Parton, 75, broke into song while getting her coronavirus vaccine and adapted one of her best-known ballads in March 2021. (Yui Mok/EMPPL PA Wire/AP)

In a catalogue that runs deep with hits, “I Will Always Love You” stands as one of Dolly Parton’s most successful songwriting credits, a tune that became a global phenomenon when it was covered by Whitney Houston for the 1992 film “The Bodyguard.”

Parton, who is estimated to have earned millions of dollars in royalties for writing the song in 1973, revealed this week how she spent her money from the songwriting credit for Houston, who died in 2012: She invested in a building located in a historically Black Nashville neighborhood.

“I bought my big office complex down in Nashville, and so I thought, ‘Well, this is a wonderful place to be,’ ” Parton said Thursday during a wide-ranging interview on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.”

Cohen had peppered Parton with lighthearted questions about her wig collection — Parton’s estimated inventory is 365 hairpieces — and the secret to her positive outlook on life. When Cohen tossed off a query about what was the best purchase she made using the royalties from the hit song, she spoke of a Nashville neighborhood then called Sevier Park, home to predominantly Black families and businesses.

“It was a whole strip mall, and I thought this is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney, so I just thought, ‘This is great, I’m just going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well,’ ” Parton said.

She added, “I love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.’ ”

Representatives for Parton did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Fueling Parton’s investment was the significant payday she earned from the success of Houston’s cover. Parton earned at least $10 million from it in the 1990s, Forbes estimated last year.

The song had already been a hit — albeit a more modest one — when Parton wrote it in 1973 as a B side to the album “Jolene.” Parton’s version was a country music success, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s country charts twice — the first in 1974 and again in 1982 when she rerecorded a version for the soundtrack to “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

But it wasn’t until 1992, when Houston recorded her version of the song as the main musical set piece for “The Bodyguard” that the song reached new heights.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Kim Bellware