Jolene Vaccine Challenge



We’re building on Dolly Parton’s $1million donation to support COVID-19 research at Vanderbilt University. To get their attention, to educate them on the Open Covid Pledge, and to add pressure for them to sign the pledge, we chose to produce a viral music video parody of the song “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.

We now want to encourage all universities to sign the Open Covid Pledge, so we are currently discussing the “next challenge”: how to create a full-length video in a way that inspires even more people to get involved and ask universities to make a meaningful change.

The Project:

The #JoleneVaccineChallenge is an interactive project, initially intended to target Dolly Parton and Vanderbilt University. However, with the success of the project, we are now targeting universities all over the world! (Read more under “Objective” below.)

We are making a music video parody of the song “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. Do you know the song? The chorus lyrics, “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene…” have been adapted to “Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine.” Check out the video link to see how we rewrote ALL of the lyrics.

The challenge, i.e. the “interactive” element of this project, is twofold. First, we invited all members of the Free the Vaccine campaign to help us make a “trailer” for the music video. The video link here is the trailer, which consists of just the first chorus and verse to the song. At the end of the trailer, we challenge viewers to send videos of THEM lip-syncing/dancing to the song. We made a downloadable track and supplied the lyrics to the whole song for viewers.


Record your own lip sync and share it on social media. #JoleneVaccineChallenge

Perform it in your own community.

What worked?

Without Occupy Democrats having shared our video on Facebook, we would have had a MUCH harder time going viral.

Other Notes:

Thousands of people across several social media platforms watched and shared our video. We are continuing to call and email Vanderbilt and Dolly Parton representatives to remind them of our video and its growing number of likes/views.

Based on the initial response to our trailer, we’ve decided that our full-length music video should now target universities all over the world. Our trailer features members of Free the Vaccine from many different countries, emphasizing Parton’s and Vanderbilt’s global impact. In continuing this theme, for the full-length music video, we plan to have a few singers/dancers wearing not only Parton costumes or Vanderbilt t-shirts, but also, for example, t-shirts from other universities.

    A set of instructions exists on how to make this work
  • Original files can be provided for exhibition
  • The work can be reproduced on site with instructions (provided)


Reflections from Dannie Snyder

What were some of the responses to this work?

We have gone viral! That in itself is a huge response to our work.

As far as viewers accepting the challenge and submitting videos… So far we have only received a handful of submissions. (It’s not too late to send one yourself!) We are currently outlining our schedule for releasing the full-length music video (probably during the first week of December) as well as three “promotional” videos between now and then; three videos (at least) to help boost our views/likes on social media.

Unfortunately, Dolly Parton and Vanderbilt representatives have not been responding to our emails and calls.

What would be your next steps, building on this idea, if you had a million dollars and all the time and skills in the world?

If we had a million dollars, we could probably think of a million ideas! Our team is always bustling around “what if we…?!” Off the top of my head, we would project the final full-length music video onto Dolly Parton’s house(s) and Vanderbilt’s buildings. We discussed the idea of – when COVID cases and social distancing measures relax – a march around Nashville in Dolly Parton costumes. But, why just in Nashville!? Why stop there?! And wouldn’t it be awesome to have the video produced in every language?! We have also discussed how to get famous people to lip-sync/dance for our full-length music video.

About this project

July, 2020


United States, Nashville


Public Domain

Link to Original or High-Res file