My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Holly Dunn

Holly DunnSan Antonio, Texas native Holly Dunn was born on August 22, 1957. In high school, she was part of a musical group known as the Freedom Folk and was later a part of Abilene Christian University’s touring choir. After graduating for Abilene, she joined her brother, who is known professionally as Chris Waters, as a songwriter in Nashville. One of their biggest successes came in 1984 when Louise Mandrell scored a Top 10 hit with their composition “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet”, a co-write with Tom Shapiro, with whom they would pen many more songs in the future.

During this time, Holly had also been working as a demo singer and in 1985 she was signed to a recording contract by the fledgling MTM label. Her first two singles “Playing For Keeps” and “My Heart Holds On” reached the lower rungs of the Billboard country singles chart. Her third release , 1986’s “Two Too Many” cracked the Top 40 and she struck paydirt with her fourth single, a song called “Daddy’s Hands”, written as a tribute to her father, which climbed all the way to #7 and became her career record. Her records consistently reached the Top 10 through the end of the 1980s.

At MTM, Holly was a big fish in a small pond. The label was unable to compete with its much larger competitors and it folded in 1989. Around the same time, Kenny Rogers asked her to record a duet for his upcoming album, and Holly was invited to join the roster of Rogers’ label, Warner Bros. At Warner Bros., her career seemed to be off to a solid start. Her first solo release for the label, “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me”, became her first #1 hit in 1989. She scored another #1 the following year with “You Really Had Me Going”. In 1991, Warner Bros. released a greatest hits package called Milestones, which contained her hits for the label as well as some earlier material from her MTM years. She found herself at the center of an unwanted controversy when some women’s groups made the charge that album’s new track “Maybe I Mean Yes” advocated date rape. Hoping to end the controversy, Dunn and Warner Bros. quickly withdrew the single from radio, but Holly’s career never really recovered. She remained on the Warner Bros. roster until 1993 but never scored another hit for the label. Two subsequent albums for River North Records failed to revive her recording career.

When her hitmaking days came to an end, Holly served a stint as a DJ for a Detroit radio station and later became a host of TNN’s Opry Backstage. She retired from the music business in 2003 and returned to Texas, where she turned her attention to another artistic passion — painting, following in her mother’s footsteps.

Though Holly’s reign at the top of the charts was relatively brief, she was a regular staple at country radio during the mid-to-late 1980s and scored a number of hits that are fondly remembered today. We hope you’ll enjoy our look back at her career during the month of March.

2 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Holly Dunn

  1. Pingback: Miranda's Platinum Gets Release Date; "Country Roads" Named West Virginia's State Song; New Music Videos - Engine 145

  2. Pingback: Breaking News: RIP Holly Dunn | My Kind of Country

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