CHUCK DAUPHIN • NOVEMBER 15, 2016 - 10:34 AM
Holly Dunn, the daughter of a preacher from Texas who became one of the top female artists in Country Music during the “New Traditionalist” movement in the 1980s, has died following a battle with cancer. She was 59.
Born Holly Suzette Dunn on August 22, 1957 in San Antonio, she first performed professionally in a band called The Freedom Folk Singers, which travelled across the country. Music was always close to her heart, as she collaborated on many songs with her brother, Chris Waters. Following college, Dunn would take her dreams to Nashville, where she earned a publishing contract.
Her career took an upward turn in 1984 when Louise Mandrell recorded her composition “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet,” which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Within a year, she had her own recording contract with MTM Records, a company owned by Mary Tyler Moore. Her first couple of singles failed to dent the charts, but her third, “Two Too Many,” hit the Top-40. It was the next single that would prove to be her breakthrough – “Daddy’s Hands.” Hitting the Top-10 in the summer of 1986, Dunn found herself landing on many of the “Top New Artists To Watch” lists.
The hits continued, with her sophomore album Cornerstone producing the hits “Only When I Love,” “Love Someone Like Me,” and the ultra-traditional “Strangers Again” each hitting the top 10. She collaborated with Michael Martin Murphey on the hit single “A Face In The Crowd,” which earned the pair several nominations in the Vocal Duet category. She took home the Horizon Award from the CMA in 1987, as well as the Top New Female Vocalist from the ACM that same year.
After MTM closed in 1989, she moved to Warner Brothers, and earned her first number one with “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me,” and was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She collaborated with Kenny Rogers on the Top-30 hit “Maybe,” and also hit the pinnacle of the charts with “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me.”
In 1991, Dunn became involved in a controversy with her single “Maybe I Mean Yes,” which many radio stations refused to play because they felt it advocated date rape. Her career slowed considerably after that, as she left Warner Brothers in 1993.
She made a pair of albums for River North in the mid 1990s, and hit the charts one last time in 1995 with “I Am Who I Am.” From there, she went on to a radio career with WWWW in Detroit. She made one final album, Full Circle, in 2003, and retired from the music business not long after, focusing her attention on her paintings – becoming a partner in an art gallery in Santa Fe. Recently, she announced that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and lost her battle with the disease this morning.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Holly Dunn, 'Daddy's Hands' Singer, Dies at 59
11/15/2016 by Associated Press
Holly Dunn performs onstage at her concert on May 18, 1995 in New York City.
Country singer Holly Dunn, a San Antonio native who had several hits in the 1980s and '90s, including 1986's "Daddy's Hands," about her minister father, has died. She was 59.
Dunn died on Monday in hospice care in Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to June Keys, the manager at the Pena-Dunn Gallery in Santa Fe, where Dunn's paintings were displayed. Dunn announced earlier this year she was battling ovarian cancer.
The Grammy-nominated Dunn was the Academy of Country Music's top new female vocalist in 1986 and was named most promising newcomer by the Country Music Association the following year.
However, her career stalled in the 1990s after her song "Maybe I Mean Yes" was pulled from country radio after critics complained it sounded like an invitation for date rape. She left music to be a painter.
Holly Dunn's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits
11/15/2016 by Jim Asker
Upon Dunn's death, a look back at one of country's top hitmakers of the '80s & '90s.
Known best for her run of hit country songs in the 1980s and '90s, Holly Dunndied Tuesday (Nov. 15) after battling ovarian cancer. She was 59.
Born Holly Suzette Dunn in San Antonio, Texas, in 1957, the singer-songwriter rolled up 21 appearances on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart from 1985 to 1995, initially recording for MTM Records before moving to Warner Bros. in 1989. Originally, Dunn and songwriter brother Chris Waters signed to MTM as writers. Early success came when the pair, along with Tom Shapiro, co-wrote Louise Mandrell's "I'm Not Through Loving You Yet," which rose to No. 7 on Hot Country Songs in June 1984
After then signing with MTM as an artist, Dunn's 1985 debut single, "Playing for Keeps," dented Hot Country Songs with a No. 62 peak before she cracked the top 10 for the first time with what became arguably her signature song, "Daddy's Hands" (her fourth chart entry), which climbed to No. 7 in November 1986. Dunn wrote "Hands" by herself as a tribute to her father, a San Antonio minister.
Holly Dunn's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits
Rank, Title, Hot Country Songs Peak Position, Peak Date
1, "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me," No. 1 (one week), 1989
2, "Love Someone Like Me," No. 2, 1987
3, "There Goes My Heart Again," No. 4, 1989
4, "Only When I Love," No. 4, 1987
5, "That's What Your Love Does to Me," No. 5, 1988
6, "You Really Had Me Going," No. 1 (one week), 1990
7, "A Face in the Crowd" (with Michael Martin Murphy), No. 4, 1987
8, "Strangers Again," No. 7, 1988
9, "Daddy's Hands," No. 7, 1986
10, " (It's Always Gonna Be) Someday," No. 11, 1988
Holly Dunn's 10 Biggest Billboard Hits are based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot Country Songs chart (through the Nov. 26, 2016, ranking). Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower ranks earning less. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted to account for different chart turnover rates over various periods.
Dunn collected nine total Hot Country Songs top 10s, including two No. 1s: "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me" (1986) and "You Really Had Me Going" (1990). Her chart hits included two duets: "A Face in the Crowd," with Michael Martin Murphey (No. 4, 1987), and "Maybe," with Kenny Rogers (No. 25, 1990). Dunn also logged six Top Country Albums entries, with 1987's Cornerstone her highest-charting (No. 22).
Dunn was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1989. She signed with River North Records in 1995, releasing two albums for the label: Life and Love and All the Stages(1995) and Leave One Bridge Standing (1997). Before retiring from music to pursue painting, she released one last LP in 2003, Full Circle, on the independent South Heart label.
Dunn's career even included a short stint in radio. Having worked in college radio, she joined WWWW-FM Detroit in 1997 as morning personality Jim Bosh's co-host in 1997, staying on-air for almost a year.
"Working with Holly was one of the highlights of my career," Bosh tells Billboard. "Holly was talented, gracious and always came to work with a great attitude and a smile on her face. We had many awesome experiences doing the show in the studio and on the road. The whole team had a great time off the air, as well, with many lunches and dinner parties and lots of laughs. Holly was class and warmth 24/7. I will miss her forever."