Dolly Parton Reveals She Used 'I Will Always Love You' Royalties to Support a Black Neighborhood

Dolly Parton made millions of dollars after Whitney Houston recorded her song "I Will Always Love You" for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard in 1992, and the country icon just revealed that she kept Houston in mind when deciding how to spend her earnings. During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live this week, host Andy Cohen asked Parton to name the best thing she had purchased with the royalties from Houston's version of the song.

"I bought my big office complex down in Nashville. So I thought, 'Well, this is a wonderful place to be,'" Parton said. "I bought a property down in what was the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there. It was off the beaten path from 16th Avenue and I thought, 'Well, I am gonna buy this place — the whole strip mall.' And I thought, 'This is the perfect place for me to be,' considering it was Whitney."

"I just thought this was great — I'm just gonna be down here with her people, who are my people as well," she added. "So I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex and I think, 'This is the house that Whitney built.'"

Parton originally wrote "I Will Always Love You" in 1973 as a message to Porter Wagoner following her decision to leave The Porter Wagoner Show and focus on her solo career. The song was released in 1974 and went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, first in June 1974 and again in October 1982 after Parton re-recorded the song for the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Houston's version became one of the best-selling singles of all time and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a record at the time.

Forbes estimates that Parton made around $10 million in royalties from "I Will Always Love You" throughout the '90s and has continued to receive earnings from the song in the years since. Prior to Houston's famous rendition, Elvis Presley expressed interest in recording the song, but Parton turned the offer down because Presley's management wanted 50 percent of the song's publishing.

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"You never know when you're writing songs, how they're going to turn out," Parton told PEOPLE last year. "But after 'I Will Always Love You' became a worldwide thing [in 1992], it was in the movie Bodyguard, and it was No. 1. I really felt my worth. Whitney did such a fantastic job. And I thought, 'Wow. I wrote that little song.' That's when I felt my worth as a songwriter. This is my gift and I'm going to do the best I can with it."