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'There Was Jesus': Dolly Parton Reaches #1 on Christian Charts for First Time with Zach Williams Duet

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Country music legend Dolly Parton can now say she's a chart-topper in another music category – Christian music.  

There Was Jesus, her song collaboration with Zach Williams went from number two to number one on Billboard's Sept. 12 Christian Airplay chart. 

Billboard reports the duet increased by 2 percent to 10.5 million airplay audience impressions in the week ending Sept. 6.

Written by Williams, Casey Beathard, and Jonathan Smith, the song is Parton's first No. 1 on Billboard's Christian charts, according to the music magazine.  

"Having a No. 1 record at any time is a great thing, but having a No. 1 faith-based record during these crazy times is even greater," Parton told Billboard. "I feel humbled and blessed to be part of this wonderful song with Zach Williams. It does my heart good to know that we have touched the lives of so many people."

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The ballad marks Williams' third Christian Airplay chart leader.  His first song to reach that status was Chain Breaker, which led the charts in November of 2016, and his second was Old Church Choir which stayed at the top for 20 weeks beginning in August 2017.

Williams previously told CBN that he felt There Was Jesus, his duet with Parton, was the key song on his album Rescue Story

"I felt like that song was strong before it had her voice on it. I feel like her voice just added something that felt almost like a heartstrings part to her voice. I think we can all relate to that song because everybody has been at someplace in their life where they're looking back on a moment that they didn't see God in, but there was somebody out there praying for them," he explained. 

"Through all of these things, all these broken times, God used that to become this thing that now you can talk about in your life. For me, 'There was Jesus' is that song," he said. "In all the waiting, in all the searching, through all of the things that I have done, there was Jesus. When I didn't know He was there, there was Jesus."

This latest accomplishment is just another milestone in Parton's amazing career. She has amassed 25 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs, the most among women; seven leaders on Top Country Albums; and two No. 1s on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 songs chart.

With There Was Jesus, the nine-time Grammy winner becomes the first artist to have topped the Adult Contemporary, Christian AC Songs, Christian Airplay, Country Airplay and Dance/Mix Show Airplay radio charts, according to Billboard. 

"I don't even know hardly what to say about all the No. 1s in all the different fields of music," Parton told the magazine. "Thank you God, thank you fans and thank you everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible."

Watch Zach Williams and Dolly Parton perform There Was Jesus in the song's official music video below. 

Words of Encouragement

Back in March, the singer-songwriter shared her thoughts on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, revealing what she believes might be the "lesson" God is trying to teach us through this still-escalating crisis.  

"It's the light, I believe, that's gonna dissolve the situation," she said. "I think God's in this, I really do. I think he's trying to hold us up to the light so we can see ourselves and see each other through the eyes of love. And I hope we learn that lesson."

"I think that when this passes, we're gonna all be better people," the beloved 74-year-old singer continued. "So I know that I have a positive attitude about it, as negative as it seems to be right now. So just keep the faith. Don't be too scared. It's gonna be alright. God loves us."

Parton released her first single "Mary, Did You Know" on her upcoming Christmas album titled "A Holly Dolly Christmas" last month.  Her new album, which is her first holiday album in three decades, will be released on Oct. 2. 

The singer said she has found "peace" and "restored" hope in "songs of faith" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and political unrest currently plaguing the US.

"'Mary, Did You Know?' is a reminder to us all year long that there is always hope, even when you least expect it," she wrote in an Instagram post. 

Parton has never been shy about crediting her Christian faith for her success. 

During an interview with CBN News' "Studio 5" in 2018, Parton said her faith is the compass for all she does.

"I pray every day. I pray about everything.  I ask God to lead me and guide me in all the decisions I make – and to bring all the good and right people into my life and to let me do something to glorify God and uplift mankind," she said. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of