Country Music

"Coat of Many Colors" and "Christmas of Many Colors" Composers Say Dolly Parton Is the Most Gracious Person to Work With

If you haven't yet seen Dolly Parton's critically acclaimed biopics "Coat of Many Colors" and "Christmas of Many Colors," you are sorely missing out.

Both films, which were released on NBC, are based on the inspiring true stories of Dolly's remarkable upbringing in rural Tennessee -- and they are truly touching.

The first installment pays special attention to a specific memory Dolly has of her mother, played by Jennifer Nettles, sewing her a patchwork coat, and the second follows young Dolly and her family as they brave a scary Tennessee blizzard and eagerly await the return of father Robert Lee, who has gone away to earn money for Christmas presents.

Both will probably bring a tear to your eye.

The thing that makes these films so touching and memorable is how they remarkably combine the telling of Dolly's childhood while lacing in songs, which were inspired by childhood memories, from her legendary career.

And while Dolly is obviously the heart and soul behind the songs featured in the films, composers Mark Leggett and Velton Ray Bunch are the ones who really bring them to life throughout the films.

Lucky for us, we had an opportunity to catch up with these two talents and talk about what it was like working with a legend like Dolly.

"'Coat of Many Colors' and this second movie 'Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,' have been wonderful projects to work on," they said. "We interweaved the score with several of Dolly's melodies, which gives these music scores a unique flavor. Dolly is a most gracious person to work with, always supportive, allowing us the freedom to write original music for these films. Dolly has assembled a wonderful team of producers that we work closely with throughout each film."

The men, who have written thousands of scores for projects like TV shows "My Name Is Earl," "Quantum Leap," "JAG," "Star Trek: Enterprise" and "Walker, Texas Ranger," and documentaries "Anne Frank's Holocaust," "Civil Rights Martyrs," and "JFK: The Final Hours," say their work on these Dolly movies is some of their favorite.

"We've written for a wide variety of projects including television, records, films and various media," they said. "Generally speaking, we are proud of the music we've written for these recent Dolly Parton films because of the mix of orchestra and Appalachian music styles. The music stands up on its own."

And we agree. The music laced throughout these movies is some of the most beautiful and magical we've ever heard.

The two men, who have been friends for over 30 years, say having the opportunity to work on this project together has been incredibly rewarding.

"We met on the music scene in Los Angeles in the late 1980s scoring for television," they explained. "Eventually, this evolved into a writing relationship when we co-composed the EMMY-nominated theme for the NBC show 'The Pretender.' We have been friends and collaborators ever since. Coming together for these Dolly Parton projects has been quite rewarding."

For them, it's especially fun because they've been Dolly fans for years.

"Dolly has been an inspiring presence in American music for decades now, and her music speaks for itself," they said. "Also, Ray has a previous working relationship with Dolly throughout her career on television specials and past films."

And, like most, their favorite Dolly song is "Jolene."

"'Jolene' is pretty great along with several of her songs from the album Little Sparrow, which features Dolly in an acoustic setting," they said.

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