Born Aug. 22, 1957, country artist Holly Dunn started her journey into the country music landscape at an early age. The Texas native headed to Nashville after graduating college, in search of her own career in the industry. After finding work as a songwriter and demo singer, she snagged her own solo record deal in 1985.
She released her self-titled debut album the following year, which included her trademark hit single "Daddy's Hands." That track became her first Top 10 hit in 1986 and began a streak of success that continued into the mid-1990s. Over the course of her career, she release 10 studio albums and charted two No. 1 hits: "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me" in 1989 and "You Really Had Me Going" in 1990.
Dunn retired from the country music industry in 2003 following the release of her final album and first gospel-centered project, Full Circle. In 2016, she announced that she had been diagnosed with "a rare, very aggressive form of ovarian cancer." Three years later, on Nov. 14, 2016, Dunn died from the disease at the age of 59.
Although her life was cut short, Dunn's impressive songbook of country tracks from the 1980s and 90s will live on through new generations of listeners. Let's take a trip back in time and appreciate these 10 standout songs from Holly Dunn.
"Are You Ever Gonna Love Me"From: 'The Blue Rose of Texas' (1989)
Dunn co-wrote this with her brother Chris Waters and award-winning songwriter Tom Shapiro for her fourth album The Blue Rose of Texas. The declarative tune was selected as the record's lead single and became her first No. 1 hit ever in the summer of 1989.
"Love Someone Like Me"From: 'Cornerstone' (1987)
In 1987, Dunn released "Love Someone Like Me" as the first single from her second album Cornerstone. Penned by Dunn and fellow country talent Radney Foster, the pleading ode peaked at No. 2 on the country charts in both the U.S. and Canada.
"There Goes My Heart Again"From: 'The Blue Rose of Texas' (1989)
This infectious single was a big hit for Dunn in the fall of 1989. Her heartfelt delivery elevated the track's irresistible melody and lyrics, which were written by fellow 90s hitmaker Joe Diffie, along with acclaimed country songwriters Lonnie Wilson and Wayne Perry.
"Only When I Love"From: 'Cornerstone' (1987)
Another co-write from Dunn, Chris Waters and Tom Shapiro, "Only When I Love" shows off the softer side of her vocal talents. The longing single made it all the way to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1987.
"That's What Your Love Does to Me"From: 'Across the Rio Grande' (1988)
The lead single from Dunn's third record Across the Rio Grande became another big hit, peaking at No. 5 on the country charts in 1988. Penned by Dunn, Waters and Warren Peterson, "That's What Your Love Does to Me" finds the love-struck singer ready to settle down and put the honky-tonk nightlife behind her.
"Strangers Again"From: 'Cornerstone' (1987)
There are few experiences as disconcerting or dizzying as ending a close relationship. Waters and Dunn teamed up to write the shattering and reflective "Strangers Again," which climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1988.
"(It's Always Gonna Be) Someday"From: 'Across the Rio Grande' (1988)
How long should you wait for true love to arrive? When do you know it's time to move on? Those are the questions at the core of "(It's Always Gonna Be) Someday," which served as the second single from Dunn's third album in 1988. The heartbreaking tune made it all the way to No. 11 on Billboard's country chart that same year.
"Heart Full of Love"From: 'Heart Full of Love' (1990)
The title track from Dunn's celebrated 1990 record is a celebration of a love that makes everything in life seem even better than before. The joyful tune was written by Greek-born country songwriter Kostas, who penned some of the genre's biggest hits of the decade, including The Chicks' "I Can Love You Better," Patty Loveless' "Timber, I'm Falling in Love," and Jo Dee Messina's "Because You Love Me."
"You Really Had Me Going"From: 'Heart Full of Love' (1990)
Dunn, Waters and Shapiro once again struck country gold with the lead single from her 1990 record Heart Full of Love. The spirited track "You Really Had Me Going" became Dunn's final No. 1 hit and stands as one of her most recognizable recordings.
"Daddy's Hands"From: 'Holly Dunn' (1986)
Release in 1986 as the final single from her self-titled debut, "Daddy's Hands" became Holly Dunn's trademark song. Dunn wrote the song as a Father's Day gift to her dad with no real intentions of sharing it with the world. She received so much positive feedback from friends and fans that she opted to record and release it, but Dunn wasn't prepared for just how popular the emotional track would become.
"Daddy's Hands" peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts and snagged her nominations for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.