Singer-Songwriter Holly Dunn Dies at 59

Best Known for Writing and Recording “Daddy’s Hands”

Singer-songwriter Holly Dunn, best known for her 1986 tribute “Daddy’s Hands,” died Tuesday (Nov. 15) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, of ovarian cancer. She was 59.

“Daddy’s Hands,” which Dunn wrote and recorded on MTM Records, led to her winning the Country Music Association’s Horizon award in 1987. She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1989.

The sister of songwriter Chris Waters, Dunn’s heyday at radio ran from 1985, when she first charted with “Playing For Keeps,” until 1995, when she scored her final single, “I Am Who I Am.”

She subsequently worked as an air personality at radio station WWWW in Detroit and then switched from music to painting.

Of her 21 charted singles, Dunn wrote or co-wrote 13, including her two No. 1’s — “Are You Ever Gonna Love Me” (1989) and “You Really Had Me Going” (1990).

Two of her chart records were duets — “A Face in the Crowd” (with Michael Martin Murphey in 1987) and “Maybe” (with Kenny Rogers in 1990.)

Dunn switched from MTM to Warner Bros. Records in 1989. It was here that she aroused some criticism with her self-penned single, “Maybe I Mean Yes,” which came out in 1991, just as the subject of date rape and the slogan “No means no” were gaining currency. The refrain of the song was, “When I say no, I mean maybe, or maybe I mean yes.”

Some music critics and many radio programmers maintained that the lyrics were implicitly offensive. Even so, the song went to No. 48 before her record label stopped promoting the track.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.