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Dolly Parton launching online Dollyverse at SXSW festival debut (yes, NFTs are involved)

Dolly Parton will make her debut appearance at this month's South by Southwest Music Festival, organizers announced Tuesday.

The beloved singer-songwriter, savvy businesswoman and international icon is set to speak and perform on March 18 at ACL Live. And Parton's first time at SXSW will be a multifaceted affair. 

Best-selling author James Patterson, with whom she collaborated on the new novel “Run, Rose, Run,” will join her for the event. The book is set for a March 7 release, and it inspired a 12-song album of the same name that drops on Friday.  At the festival, Parton and Patterson will celebrate the releases with a conversation moderated by “Friday Night Lights” star Connie Britton.

Dolly Parton and James Patterson will appear at South by Southwest on March 18 to promote their novel and companion album, "Run, Rose, Run," and launch the NFT platform Dollyverse, from Blockchain Creative Labs.

After the talk, Parton will perform songs from the album, plus a few hits. The show will be open to SXSW badge-holders on a first come, first served basis, capacity permitting. It will also be livestreamed for free, but there's a twist.

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The SXSW event also celebrates the launch of Dollyverse, a new Web3 experience created in partnership with Fox Entertainment’s Blockchain Creative Labs. Web3 is a new approach to the internet, according to tech outlet Wired; it uses blockchain technology to decentralize the world wide web, emphasizing user creation and ownership. People looking to tune into the SXSW event will find it on the Dollyverse platform, with more details to be announced in the coming days.

Dolly Parton’s most recent Austin performance was a 2016 appearance on her “Pure and Simple” tour at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Dollyverse also will sell limited-edition NFTs of the "Run, Rose, Run" album and of Dolly-inspired artwork. In-person attendees at Parton’s performance will be able to claim a free NFT, while fans who stream the event can receive tokens authenticating their participation.

(Quick explainer: NFT stands for non-fungible token. Essentially, an NFT is a piece of data certifying ownership of a unique digital item. People have been using NFT marketplaces, which trade in cryptocurrency, to collect digital art, video clips and other cyber memorabilia.)

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“There’s almost nothing more important to me than connecting with my fans.  And I’m almost always up for trying something new and different,” Parton said in a statement.  “I'd say releasing NFTs at my first ever appearance at SXSW, with James Patterson by my side, definitely counts as new and different!”

Hugh Forrest, chief programming officer for SXSW, said in a statement festival organizers are “absolutely ecstatic" to welcome Parton, adding that the 76-year-old country music legend’s appearance “fulfills one of our longtime goals.”   

"Beyond her legendary status in the music industry, Dolly embodies the SXSW spirit as she extends her unique brand of creativity across many verticals,” Forrest said. “Most importantly, Dolly serves as an inspirational and unifying role model for millions of fans — spanning different ages, occupations, and viewpoints — from all over the world.”

Parton’s most recent Austin performance was a 2016 appearance on her “Pure and Simple” tour at the Frank Erwin Center. 

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That performance featured almost as much humor as it did music, as the warm and wonderful Parton sprinkled stories about her Smoky Mountains hometown; her family and friends; and her life in the music industry throughout her set. 

“Along the way, she amazed the crowd with her wide-ranging musical talent, a virtuosity that extends well beyond her legendary reputation as a high-lonesome but powerful singer and a deeply affecting songwriter,” the American-Statesman’s Peter Blackstock wrote about the show. 

SXSW kicks off on March 11 and runs through March 19.