On-Air Now
On-Air Now

Who’s New: Sarah Dunn Band

Current Single: “Dirty”

EP: Wild Wild Heart

Hometown: Neosho, Missouri

Influences: Hank Williams Jr., Patsy Cline, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday

Sarah_Dunn_Band_Album_CoverIn Brief: Growing up in a musical family gave Sarah Dunn the motivation she needed to begin a career in country music. At the age of 13, with her mother on the keyboard, Sarah started playing in honky-tonks and dive bars. Fast forward 12 years later and Sarah, 25, is now fronting the Sarah Dunn Band and recently released a new EP, Wild Wild Heart. Sarah wrote six of the seven songs on the EP, including her current single, “Dirty.”

A Mother’s Love

I’ve been singing my whole life, as far as I could remember back, at family get-togethers as a really little girl and at church functions, things like that. But it was about the time I was 13 that I really wanted to start a band. That’s all I could think about really. I came to my mom and asked her if we could do this together because I knew, at my young age and not really knowing where to start, that it would be a difficult thing to do. Thankfully she was right on my side and a huge champion for me getting started. We just scrapped together some equipment and started doing auditions for local musicians. We started our own group and just played wherever we could get our foot in the door. At that time, it was just honky-tonks and bars and dives, not the best venues in the world, but a really good start and really a good learning experience to do that for about eight years. It was really a good time to discover how I was going to be onstage and how to talk to an audience. Mom played keys for me for eight years and we sang backup vocals together. There’s nothing like that family harmony. We’ve been singing together forever. Whenever she started playing piano, not having a lot of money and being from the poor side of town, that was our entertainment—sitting with mama at the piano and sitting and playing together.”

The Sound of Sarah

“Wild Wild Heart is sort of a throwback to the days of the Mavericks and Diamond Rio and Dwight Yoakam. We wanted to give it a very classic feel. Some of the songs we wanted to have kind of a haunting and timeless sound. As far as the content of the songs, we wanted it to tell a story that everyone could relate to. For example, ‘Rent’  was a song I wrote when I was having a lot of struggles in my life. It was the struggle of just being able to make ends meet. You know, working two jobs and never having enough at the end of the day. That’s a universal struggle, that’s not something that was unique to me. So when I wrote the song I realized it could reach out and touch someone so they would feel that they are not alone in that. With this EP we want to uplift and we want to touch people with our music.”


The Haggard Effect

“I’ve always loved Merle. I can pretty much put my finger on the first time I saw him. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was watching reruns of Hee Haw that came on every Sunday after church. I was watching that with my mom—I was about 5. Merle Haggard came on as a guest and he was a younger man at the time it was filmed. I was completely mesmerized even as a little kid. I turned around and looked at mom and said ‘He is so handsome, he can sing, I’m going to marry him.’ She just died laughing and said ‘He’s old enough to be your grandpa.’ I said ‘I don’t care.’ That started my love affair with Merle. I feel like he embodied country music. He was just an amazing artist and really the embodiment of what I feel is country music. When I heard that he had passed away, I was heartbroken. I was on my way back down to Nashville to finish up the EP. I got the news and I was just stunned. So I thought ‘Man, he’s been such an influence on country and so many people out there. I don’t even know how many hits he’s had.’ So I made a list of all the songs I could think of off the top of my head. I was looking at the list, and I know that’s not all of them, but I thought ‘These titles, you can fit them together.’ I thought ‘Why don’t I?” I sat down and wrote this song, ‘All My Best.’ It really came from my heart. Not only does it mention all his titles but it’s about how it will never be quite the same without Merle Haggard.”