Dolly Parton Mired in Glastonbury Lip Sync Controversy

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Over the weekend, the UK was swept up in their equivalent to America’s Bonaroo or ACL Fest—the multi-genre mega-festival known as Glastonbury, which transpires near Pilton, Somerset in England every early summer. On Sunday, Dolly Parton was one of the festival’s featured performers, filling an afternoon spot at the festival’s main Pyramid Stage in front of a crowd estimated at somewhere around 100,000 people. Parton is currently on a world tour promoting her recent album Blue Smoke.

Dolly was one of the most anticipated artists at Glastonbury, and many festival goers suited up in Dolly costumes and made signs for the legendary country singer, illustrating that Dolly’s appeal is quite international. However during and after her set, controversy began to swirl that the 68-year-old singer was lip syncing, or as they call it in England “miming” to a pre-recorded track.

When prominent Sky News anchor Kay Burley tweeted out, “Oh, Dolly is miming. How disappointing” during Dolly’s set, the controversy started in earnest. Dolly’s performance was broadcast live by the BBC, and many viewers were watching the set transpire at home, some of which had similar reactions to Dolly’s set.

However others came to Dolly’s defense. While watching the broadcast, there was certainly some delay in what viewers were seeing and hearing, and it was pronounced more at various times in the set than others. British comedian Stephen Fry took to Twitter to blame this on an “HD live processor” that could create latency between sight and sound. I think I know quite a lot about how TV is made. Why are people saying Dolly Parton is miming? She’s fooling me… Believe me, that is not miming. If it appears not always to lip-sync that’s an HD live processor issue. You see it with news reporters.”

A Dolly Parton spokesperson also came to Dolly’s defense, telling the UK’s Sunday Mirror, “No, she sings live. Some people don’t know an amazing singer when they hear one. This should not overshadow what was truly a great gig and accomplished performance. Dolly adored every single moment.”

However  as some have pointed out, in 2004 in a statement to fan website Dollymania, Dolly said, “Yes, there are portions of the songs in the show that are prerecorded. I tell you that at the beginning of the show when I say, ‘If you notice some enhancement or doctoring in the show, it’s not to fool or trick anyone. It’s an effort to entertain by being able to have a bigger production and, hopefully, a better sound.”

Between each song, Dolly was quite talkative, so her mic was clearly live during portions of the performance. But if she used per-recorded portions for her open-air Glastonbury set, Parton is not fessing up to it. “My boobs are fake, my hair’s fake but what’s real is my voice and my heart,” she told The Sun after the lip-syncing accusations.

Also while at Glastonbury, Dolly Parton was presented with a surprise accolade for selling 100 million records total worldwide.