The legendary country singer joins Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Mother Theresa, Astrid Lindgren and Nelson Mandela as recipients of the honour, for which she was sent a piece of glassware by local artist Anna-Lina Eriksson.
The award was made to Parton by a jury from local newspaper Piteå Tidningen and the town’s annual PDOL festival. They said they chose the singer because of the loyalty she shows to her home region in the Great Smokey Mountains, Tennessee.
“She is someone who is very concerned with her how city, and proud of where she comes from,” Gerd Sävenstedt, spokeswoman for Piteå municipality, told The Local.
“This is something that always distinguishes people from Piteå – people here are known for being very proud of their city. We think the whole world revolves around our town.”
In her letter thanking the town, which was sent to Piteå Tidningen, Parton said that she was “honoured and touched beyond belief.”
“I have always wanted God and my family to be proud of me. But to think that I have touched people all over the world is more than I can put into words. I hope I can visit Pitea some day and thank you in person,” the singer wrote.
She added that she was honoured to be in the company of other winners such as Mandela, Mother Theresa and Kofi Annan.
“I’m not sure that I deserve it, but thank you for thinking so,” she said.