Dolly. Like Cher, Madonna or Prince, she really only needs the one name. Over the last half-century, she's reached iconic status as both artist and songwriter. Tonight, she'll host the 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards, live from Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium and streamed on Amazon Prime Video to three continents.

The Country Music Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member is also on the list for the first time for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, plus she’s about to release a new album and a book co-authored with James Patterson, both entitled Run, Rose, Run.

Beyond speaking up for LGBTQ+ causes, Black Lives Matter and donating money to research for the COVID-19 vaccine, Dolly maintains her Imagination Library, which has provided nearly 180m books to children in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and Ireland.

She’s made movies, had two variety series, headlined assorted cable and streaming projects, triumphed with countless world tours, penned and performed multiple #1 hits, delivered a raft of platinum albums and, of course, created her very own amusement park, Dollywood. Still, no roller-coaster or water flume could make her squeal louder than having to field a bunch of questions from HITS’ Holly "Answer at Your Own Risk" Gleason.

Everybody loves awards shows, and I'm no exception. The great thing about the ACMs is that they're given to you by your peers. What do you like most about hosting?
Well, I love to get dressed up. I love getting to see all my friends in the music business; it's like a family reunion backstage. And it's just a great opportunity for us to celebrate each other.

Were you surprised to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
I about passed out. I have been called a lot of things in my life, but a rockin’ roller has never been one of them.

I know a bunch of voters and you’re gonna be getting their votes! What do you think it is about you that landed you on the list? What makes you a candidate for the Rock Hall?
I have to be totally honest, I have no idea. It is incredibly flattering, though. And I assume that it relates to some of my crossover hits.

How did you meet James Patterson? Was it a match made for writing a book? Or did that come out of a conversation?
James reached out to me to see if I would be interested in writing a novel based in Nashville and centered on the music industry. He had just come off the success of the book he co-wrote with former President Bill Clinton. So I think he enjoys the collaboration process, and we clicked immediately. And the rest is storytelling history.

How did you two settle on the story?
It was actually very natural. He would come up with a little bit, I would come up with a little bit and by the time we added up all the bits, we had a book and an album.

Was writing the new record easier or harder in the context of writing the book?
One of the ways I felt I could contribute best to the book was to stick with my first love, which is to write music. I have always loved to write story songs, so this was a perfect chance for me to musically tell a story.

How much of you is in the book? Or the record? What I’ve heard or heard about sounds pretty Dolly-hearted.
There is a little bit of me in every project I do; there are bits and pieces of each character I can relate to, whether it's me personally or someone I love.

TV, film, books, songs... not to mention activism and humanitarianism. What’s your favorite medium?
I couldn't possibly pick a favorite; that's like asking a mama which one of her kids she likes the most. But, like I said, my first love is songwriting. Always has been, always will be.

How does it feel to be an inspiration to so many people?
I have honestly never set out to inspire anybody. I have been so blessed in my career and personal life that I feel like I'm the one who gets inspiration from the people around me. If people have found inspiration in me, I consider myself lucky.

(l-r) onstage with Linda Perry; with goddaughter Miley Cyrus; with Kacey Musgraves

Dolly ACM photo credit: Stacie Huckeba