Originally published in the March 28, 1995 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
Holly Dunn sings the praises of women who are proud to be themselves in her new video, “I Am Who I Am,” but during a break in the shooting, her first thought is of something less lofty and grand.
“Is the sushi here yet?” the famished Holly asks as 2 p.m. approaches. The Grammy‑nominated songwriter and performer best known for “Daddy’s Hands” and “You Really Had Me Going” has been at a Nashville soundstage since 8:30 a.m. and hasn’t eaten a thing. An assistant arrives with Holly’s favorite meal, and she sits down in a break room to chat with Country Weekly about the video and just‑released single from her new Life and Love and All the Stages album, her River North Records debut album due out April 4.
“This song could be an anthem,” she says between bites. “I had a totally different, literal concept for the video, but after reading this broad‑ranging script, I realized the song didn’t have to be just one woman’s story but could be healing to anyone.”
Video director Thom Oliphant of High Five Productions aimed the production at all women. “We shot images of strong women, individuals, against different backdrops,” he said. “We looked for women with amazing faces and terrific stories.”
“‘I Am Who I Am’ sums up where I’ve been, and is kind of my theme song for the album,” Holly says. “I was coming to terms with me, what I’ve been through over the last couple of years.”
The past two years have indeed been years of growth for the 1987 Country Music Association Horizon Award winner, resulting in a re‑emergence and a closeness to her music. “Yes, I’m the new and improved Holly!” she says with a laugh. Her contract was up with Warner Bros. after releasing Getting It Dunn three years ago, and Holly needed time to center herself. BMI’s Songwriter of the Year in 1988 concentrated on writing while continuing to tour successfully.
“This is truly a songwriter album,” Holly says. “I’ve had time to write, so I could glean the best of the best of my songs.” The payoff is a collection of 10 songs ‑‑ nine by Holly, one by her brother, Chris Waters ‑‑ that she is proud of and eager to share with her fans.
River North President Joe Thomas and Holly co‑produced the project. Joe gave Holly freedom in recording the album and with the image she wanted to portray. She prefers to pick her own wardrobe for photos and videos, and she has a huge array of outfits to choose from.
With the release of Life and Love and All the Stages, Holly’s schedule is buzzing again. She’s ready for it now with a restocked pantry of songs and a restored vision.
She takes her last bite of sushi as an assistant comes to put her back in the spotlights. “This feels good,” she says. “I’m enjoying this.”
photos by Libba Gillum