Holly Suzette Dunn (August 22, 1957 – November 14, 2016) was an American country music singer and songwriter. Dunn recorded for MTM Records between 1985 and 1988, Warner Bros. Records between 1988 and 1993, and River North Records between 1995 and 1997. She released 10 albums and charted 19 singles, plus two duets on the Hot Country Songs charts. Two of her single releases, "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me" and "You Really Had Me Going", went to No. 1 on that chart. Other songs for which she is known include "Daddy's Hands" and "Maybe I Mean Yes". Dunn's brother, Chris Waters, is a songwriter and record producer, having worked with both his sister and other artists in these capacities. Dunn retired from music in 2003, and died of ovarian cancer in 2016.

Holly Dunn
Holly dunn 1995.jpg
Promotional image of Holly Dunn, 1995
Background information
Birth nameHolly Suzette Dunn
Born(1957-08-22)August 22, 1957
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 14, 2016(2016-11-14) (aged 59)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Years active1985–2003
Associated actsChris Waters


Early years and MTM RecordsEdit

Holly Suzette Dunn was born August 22, 1957. Her parents were a Church of Christ preacher and a landscape painter.[1]

While attending high school, Dunn performed in a band called Freedom Folk Singers, which toured the Southern United States. She attended Abilene Christian University and performed in a school-sponsored group called The Hilltoppers.[2] Dunn also wrote songs with her brother, Chris Waters, who later became a prolific songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. One of their collaborations, "Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind", was recorded by Cristy Lane. After graduating from college, Dunn moved to Nashville, where she worked as a demo singer before both Waters and she became songwriters at CBS Records, and then MTM Records. Louise Mandrell had a top-10 hit in 1984 with "I'm Not Through Loving You Yet", which the two co-wrote.[2] By 1985, Dunn was signed to a record contract with MTM.

Dunn's first two releases — "Playing for Keeps" and "My Heart Holds On" — both failed to make the top 40 on the Hot Country Songs charts, while "Two Too Many" peaked at number 39. Her first top-10 hit came in 1986, when "Daddy's Hands", a tribute to her father,[3] went to number 7 on that chart.[4] Dunn wrote "Daddy's Hands" by herself, and noted that the song's success led to many fans sharing positive experiences about their own fathers with her.[5] The song was included on her self-titled debut, from which it served as the final single. Following this song, she sang guest vocals on Michael Martin Murphey's top-five hit "A Face in the Crowd", from his album Americana.[4] She was named the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist in 1986, and then the winner of Country Music Association’s Horizon Award in 1987.

Her second MTM album, Cornerstone, produced three straight top-10 hits in "Love Someone Like Me", "Only When I Love", and "Strangers Again".[4] Across the Rio Grande in 1988 included the singles "That's What Your Love Does to Me" and "(It's Always Gonna Be) Someday",[4] before MTM Records filed for bankruptcy and closed.[2]

Warner Bros. Records, Grand Ole Opry, River North Records and retirement (1989-2003)Edit

In 1989, Dunn moved to Warner Bros. Records' Nashville division. Her first release for the label, The Blue Rose of Texas, produced her first number-one hit in "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me", followed by "There Goes My Heart Again" at number four. The latter was co-written by a then-unknown Joe Diffie,[6] who also sang backing vocals on it. She also became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1989. She also sang on Kenny Rogers' late 1990 hit "Maybe", from his album Something Inside So Strong.[4]

Dunn's second Warner Bros. album, Heart Full of Love, was released in 1990. Although its lead single "My Anniversary for Being a Fool" failed to make the top 40, the followup "You Really Had Me Going" became her second and final number-one hit, while the title track was a top-20 hit.[4]

In 1991, Dunn released her first greatest hits package, Milestones: Greatest Hits. It included the new release "Maybe I Mean Yes", which became controversial due to some listeners interpreting the song as condoning date rape. As a result, Dunn asked for the single to be withdrawn from rotation.[7] Her final Warner Bros. release, Getting It Dunn, failed to produce a top-40 hit, and she exited the label in 1993.[4]

Dunn signed to River North Records in 1995 and released two albums for the label: Life and Love and All the Stages in 1995 and Leave One Bridge Standing two years later. The former produced her final chart entry in "I Am Who I Am".[4] Shortly before the release of Leave One Bridge Standing, she joined country music radio station WWWW in Detroit, Michigan, as morning show co-host. It was not her first time behind the radio mike, as she had served as a DJ during her college years. However, the decision forced her to give up touring for a time. Later, she co-hosted Opry Backstage on the Nashville Network in 1999-2002.[8]

In 2003, Dunn announced her retirement from her musical career and released her final album, Full Circle, which was her one and only gospel album, to devote full-time to her other passion, art. Her paintings deal primarily with subjects from the Southwestern United States, and are available through her website www.hollydunn.com.[8]

On November 14, 2016, Dunn died of ovarian cancer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at age 59.[9] She is buried at the Salado Cemetery in Salado, TX at the Dunn family plot.


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak positions
US Country[10]
Holly Dunn
  • Release date: 1986
  • Label: MTM
  • Formats: Vinyl, CD, Cassette
  • Release date: 1987
  • Label: MTM
  • Formats: Vinyl, CD, Cassette
Across the Rio Grande
  • Release date: 1988
  • Label: MTM
  • Formats: Vinyl, CD, Cassette
The Blue Rose of Texas
  • Release date: July 10, 1989
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Formats: Vinyl, CD, Cassette
Heart Full of Love
  • Release date: May 10, 1990
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, Cassette
Getting It Dunn
  • Release date: June 16, 1992
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, Cassette
Life and Love and All the Stages
  • Release date: April 18, 1995
  • Label: River North
  • Formats: CD, Cassette
Leave One Bridge Standing
  • Release date: April 8, 1997
  • Label: River North
  • Formats: CD, Cassette
Full Circle
  • Release date: 2003
  • Label: South Heart
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Title Album details Peak chart
(sales thresholds)
US Country[10] US[11]
Milestones: Greatest Hits
  • Release date: July 23, 1991
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, Cassette
25 162


Year Single Peak chart
US Country
CAN Country
1985 "Playing for Keeps" 62 N/A
"My Heart Holds On" 64 Holly Dunn
1986 "Two Too Many" 39
"Daddy's Hands" 7
1987 "Love Someone Like Me" 2 2 Cornerstone
"Only When I Love" 4 7
1988 "Strangers Again" 7 36
"That's What Your Love Does to Me" 5 6 Across the Rio Grande
"(It's Always Gonna Be) Someday" 11 13
1989 "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me" 1 6 The Blue Rose of Texas
"There Goes My Heart Again" 4 8
1990 "My Anniversary for Being a Fool" 63 75 Heart Full of Love
"You Really Had Me Going" 1 1
1991 "Heart Full of Love" 19 12
"Maybe I Mean Yes" 48 45 Milestones: Greatest Hits
"No One Takes the Train Anymore"
1992 "No Love Have I" 67 Getting It Dunn
"As Long as You Belong to Me" 68
"Golden Years" 51 62
1995 "I Am Who I Am" 56 56 Life and Love and All the Stages
"Cowboys Are My Weakness"
"It's Not About Blame"[14]
1997 "Leave One Bridge Standing" Leave One Bridge Standing
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Guest singlesEdit

Year Single Artist Peak chart
US Country CAN Country
1987 "A Face in the Crowd" Michael Martin Murphey 4 7 Americana
1990 "Maybe" Kenny Rogers 25 17 Something Inside So Strong
"Tomorrow's World" Various artists 74 N/A
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Video albumsEdit

Title Details
Milestones: Greatest Hits
  • Release date: 1991
  • Label: Warner Bros. Records
  • Formats: VHS

Music videosEdit

Year Title Director
1986 "Two Too Many" Coke Sams
"Daddy's Hands" Jim May/Coke Sams
1988 "Strangers Again" Coke Sams
1989 "There Goes My Heart Again" (Live)
1990 "You Really Had Me Going" Charley Randazzo
1991 "Maybe I Mean Yes" Clarke Gallivan
"No One Takes the Train Anymore" Clarke Gallivan
1992 "As Long As You Belong To Me" Roger Pistole
1995 "I Am Who I Am" Thom Oliphant
"Cowboys Are My Weakness" Jon Small
1997 "Leave One Bridge Standing" Steven R. Monroe

Guest appearancesEdit

Year Video Director
1990 "Tomorrow's World" (Various) Gustavo Garzon


  1. ^ Paul Kingsbury (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music.
  2. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Holly Dunn Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  3. ^ Stambler, Irwin; Laudon, Grelon. Country Music: The Encyclopedia. p. 144.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 133. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  5. ^ "'Daddy's Hands' lifting up Holly Dunn". The Tennesseean. November 8, 1986. pp. D1. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  6. ^ Sharpe, Jerry (24 November 1990). "Joe Diffie's Loss Was Joe Diffie's Gain". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  7. ^ Meyers, Kate (16 August 1991). "Holly Dunn's Controversial Single". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  8. ^ a b Freeman, Jon (15 November 2016). "'Daddy's Hands' Singer Holly Dunn Dead at 59". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X.
  9. ^ Roberts, Sam (15 November 2016). "Holly Dunn, Country Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 59". The New York Times. p. B16.
  10. ^ a b "Top Country Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Search results for Holly Dunn". RPM. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. November 4, 1995.

External linksEdit