Dolly and Tammy Beyond Beauty School

Claire HolleyThis past weekend I spent some time on retreat at Laity Lodge outside of Leakey, TX.  On the final night of the retreat, the artist-in-residence for the weekend, Claire Holley, played a concert in the Cody Center.  Before the concert, though, we had our regular dinner (and by regular I mean consistently wonderful: that night it was steak and a bounty of delicious sides).  As can often happen at such a retreat, my friends and I actually got to eat with and talk to Claire.  It was a great time talking about music and influences and how the weekend had gone for each of us.  I asked her about the content of her upcoming concert, if we could expect any covers.  She quickly hinted at two: one with roots in jazz and another reggae song that would probably catch us by surprise.  She started with the reggae song: a bare and beautiful rendition of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

Perhaps the highlight of her set, though, was “Beauty School,” which recounts something of the friendship between Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.  She tells some of that story in the video below before going into the song.  It’s a nice, simple picture of what friendship over time can look like.

Claire is currently slated to work on a “20th anniversary” refresh of her hymns album, Sanctuary.  Her voice is exquisite (with of Dolly, too).  If you get a chance to see her live, take it.  She’s a great storyteller and a blessing of a person.

(image from

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