Shows: Wynonah Dove dolls up as Parton........................
AMERICAN Wynonah Dove Bush has spent the best part of a decade impersonating country star Dolly Parton. The likeness is uncanny, but such transformations don’t come as easily as you’d think.
Dove calls it her ‘‘labour of love’’.
‘‘Under everything I’m a black-haired tomboy,’’ she says, laughing. ‘‘I’m the same height as Dolly and I have the same thing going on up front as she does – they’re all my own, too.
‘‘They haven’t been fixed yet, though I can see the day for that may be coming soon.
‘‘I suppose you might say I’ve got the physicality part under control from the neck down. The rest I do with makeup and wigs and that I had to learn. I had a few friends who were drag queens give me some tips.’’
Most important are the towering heels she dons to play the US country music star.
‘‘The toughest thing about playing Dolly is the shoes. They’re killer,’’ she says.
Singer and songwriter Dove performed her own Appalachian bluegrass act before her tribute work took off. These days, playing Parton is a full-time job.
‘‘I suppose I play two or three shows a year as myself, not that I mind,’’ she says.
‘‘I grew up and still live in the Appalachian Mountains. Dolly’s home is about an hour and half from where I grew up as a hillbilly. I grew up listening to Dolly on the radio, singing her songs. That style of singing comes naturally.’’
Dove performs all of Parton’s hits. The toughest, she says, is 9 to 5.
‘‘It mightn’t seem like a song that’s too tricky but the tempo is kind of fast.
‘‘I have to be careful not to move too much about the stage. Do that for too long and you end up winded.’’
Dove says there are benefits to performing a tribute act.
‘‘It’s certainly a lot more fun to perform as Dolly than as me. It gives me freedom to do things on stage I don’t do as myself.
‘‘When I perform as Dolly, it really is no holds barred. If I want to sit on a lap and rub a balding head, I can.’’
It means Dove returns to anonymity when she goes home to the farm.
‘‘I really am a blue jeans and T-shirt kind of girl,’’ she says.
‘‘I can’t walk around there in fancy clothes; well, I suppose I could, but I’d get a strange look from the animals. I tone perfume down. I don’t wear makeup.’’
Dove is joined for The Ladies of Country by fellow Americans Kelly Smith, as Shania Twain, and Sherrill Douglas, as Patsy Cline. The trio tour together for a part of each year before they head their separate ways for solo shows.
‘‘We met when we performed at the same venue and just hit it off. We just clicked and have a good rapport,’’ she says.
‘‘All of us are down-to-earth; there are no egos. And all three of us love to travel.’’
The Ladies of Country play Twin Towns on May 18.
Wynonah Dove Bush as Dolly Parton.