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Dolly Parton and Kelly Clarkson Surprise the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra

The oldest continually performing symphony orchestra in the southeast has received a jolly boost from an East Tennessee treasure and the first “American Idol” in a surprise donation this week. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra was given a $50,000 donation on NBC’s “The Kelly Clarkson Show” while Dolly Parton was a guest on the show. Financial services company Netspend gave $25,000 that was matched by Parton. During the opening of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge in March, Parton had praised Clarkson for the Texas native’s performance of Parton’s timeless hit, “I Will Always Love You” during the Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony. Since then, the two entertainers have teamed up for other appearances and good deeds; plus performing duets of Parton’s hits “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You.” According to a news release, the contributions were inspired by Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s music education program for East Tennessee students, which is led by Erin Gonzalez, KSO’s education and community partnerships coordinator. “We are honored by the generous donations made by Dolly Parton and The Kelly Clarkson Show in partnership with Netspend Corporation,” Rachel Ford, CEO of Knoxville Symphony Orchestra said. “Their support of the KSO helps us maintain and improve our education and community programs, which reach more than 45,000 students and community members across East Tennessee. Erin is an integral part of our organization, and we are overjoyed that her talent and passion for music education were celebrated in a way that will allow us to reach even more students.” KSO was established in 1935 and reaches 200,000 annually. Its mission operates with the highest artistic standards to reach all of East Tennessee’s audiences “with excellent musical performance and education programs.”

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