Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nashville’s best-kept secret: Hannah Dasher. When Dasher takes the stage, you see a country star who was born to entertain.
What you don’t see is what it took her to get to that stage. “In order to pay my band, I had to start cleaning houses and sell all my guitars, including the first and only one my daddy ever gave me. For years, I wrote songs and played shows on borrowed guitars,” Dasher recalls. “Eventually, I scrubbed enough toilets to buy my first Gibson.”
Aside from Hannah’s work ethic, her strong, non-conforming, swaggy lyrics set her apart from her peers early on, earning her the nickname Hannah Damn Dasher. Accompanying her big hair and her larger-than-life personality is a voice that’s even bigger. Listen closely and you’ll hear remnants of Lorrie Morgan, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and Alan Jackson. It all makes for a sound that’s familiar — like your favorite 90’s country — yet uniquely fresh.
In fact, that fresh take on the familiar further sets Dasher apart from every other country music hopeful who moves to Nashville to chase the neon dream. Her carefully crafted songs, classically country voice and presence on stage give her a leg up in a genre where fitting in just wasn’t a good fit.
And already, it’s starting to pay off. During the quarantine summer of 2020, Dasher decided to try out her comedic, country music-infused cooking series, “Stand By Your Pan” on TikTok. Within six months, her platform grew from 12,000 followers to over a million. “People appreciate that I’m authentically unfiltered Hannah, and I’m very confident in who God made me to be,” she says.
Quite the entertainer beyond the kitchen, the triple threat is now a Fender Next Artist, and the face of the new 2021 Telecaster coming this fall. “Jaren Johnston (from the band The Cadillac Three) gave me my first electric guitar a few years ago and said, ‘Now here. Learn it!’ So I did. I don’t know the notes, I just play by ear.”
While Dasher’s ascent has been almost a decade in the making, someone once told her, “Reba wasn’t built in a day.” So she’s comfortable with the slow climb, because she’s surrounded herself with a Nashville family of songwriters, musicians, producers and industry allies who push her to be better. “So many people have had instrumental talks with me about getting out of my own way. It’s hard to relinquish control of your art and to navigate that, while keeping everyone around me inspired.”
Her latest release The Half Record — due out July 9 — is the music that Dasher is very proud to be sharing with the world. “I like to leave things better than I found them. This is so much bigger than me,” she shares.
Being born and raised near Savannah, Georgia, Dasher likes to say that she’s been keeping country country since 1989. And while she did have some rock and Motown influences in the mix, the cassettes she wore out when she was growing up were Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits, Clint Black’s Killin’ Time and Alan Jackson’s A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love).
Now that she’s fully immersed in the grown-up life of a country singer-songwriter, Dasher admits that from a very young age, she was not merely a fair-weather fan. She was the kind of fan who made country music her life’s mission. “I didn’t like to read books, but I’d read song lyrics and liner notes front to back. I was that nerdy kid who knew who Keith Stegall was when I was 8 years old,” she admits. “And I always wanted to be a country singer. Hell, I practiced my CMA Awards speeches in front of my bathroom mirror with a hairbrush as a little girl.”
Once she’d moved to Nashville after graduating from college, Dasher balanced her work at Bass Pro Shops with her work honing her songwriting craft. It paid off just a year and a half after she arrived, when she signed a publishing deal in 2012.But it wasn’t until 2017 that she signed with Sony Music Nashville. “I knew I wanted to be a singer, but then I discovered songwriting,” Dasher recalls. “Then I thought, ‘Maybe I want both. Maybe I don’t just want to be Reba McEntire. Maybe I want to be Alan Jackson as well.’ It took five years between my publishing and record deals because I felt like I couldn’t be the kind of artist I wanted to be until the songs were in place.”
“I was loading up my gun for the gun fight,” she says of the years she spent learning how to trust her pen. “I even had an early cut with Brad Paisley — a co-write with Paisley, Chris DuBois and Brent Anderson — called ‘Go to Bed Early.’ It was an idea I’d started working on right around the time I got fired from Bass Pro Shop.”
Once Sony discovered and then signed Dasher, she says, her team was careful about the timing of her releases, because in country music, timing can be everything. “They never made me feel like I wasn’t enough,” the CMT Next Women of Country says. And now that the time is right, Dasher is all in. She was born to entertain, and now she’s devoted 32 years of hard work to perfecting her art. It shows at all her shows. Hannah Damn Dasher, indeed.