The album was recorded at Sevierville (Parton's hometown) High School during their annual Dolly Day. It was a celebration they held in honor of their famed (and soon-to-be most famous) resident. It was arranged by Porter Wagoner, who appears on several tracks.
A Real Live Dolly was included as a bonus disk for pre-orders of Dolly Parton's self-titled career-spanning box set, that was released in October 2009. This version of the album included four bonus tracks not found on the originally; live versions of "Just Because I'm a Woman," "Coat of Many Colors," "Daddy Come and Get Me," and "He's a Go Getter." It was released on iTunes in March 2010.