In the 1980s, Holly Dunn rose to fame with “Daddy’s Hands” that eventually became her signature song. Though the song only rose to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks, it was Dunn’s longest-lasting hit and continued to be on radio playlists.
The Song That Made People Weep
Written by Holly Dunn as a Father’s Day present, “Daddy’s Hands” is a tribute to Dunn’s father, who was a minister.
“I remember daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer and reachin’ out to hold me when I had a nightmare. You could read quite a story in the callous’ and lines. Years of work and worry had left their mark behind,” the song begins.
“Daddy’s Hands” was originally recorded by the country music trio The Whites, composed of sisters Cheryl and Sharon and their father, Buck. However, their version got caught up in red tape at their record label, and it was never released, so Holly Dunn decided to include it on her self-titled album in 1986. The song received a very positive reception from fans and listeners.
“I could see every time I did ‘Daddy’s Hands,’ people were weeping. It was like: ‘What is going on here?’ I was looking around at the band: ‘Now, what the heck? Something’s really happening when I do this song,'” Dunn once said.
So, when it was time for Dunn to figure out what her fourth single would be, she brought it up to the record label and said, “Look, something’s happening out here. I don’t know what’s happening, but something’s really happening with this song. I think we should consider putting this out because it really seems to be touching people.”
It Became Holly Dunn’s Signature Song
Holly Dunn received two Grammy Award nominations in 1987 for the “Daddy’s Hands”: Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, and Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
And during one episode of The Dolly Show, hosted by the country queen Dolly Parton in the late 1980s, Holly Dunn stopped by as the musical guest. It was revealed in the show that Dunn only agreed to come if Parton would sing “Daddy’s Hands” with her, and of course, Parton said yes. After all, it was one of Parton’s favorite country songs. Together, the two talented singers delivered a heartfelt rendition of Dunn’s most well-known song, trading off verses and joining in harmony for the chorus.
Though Dunn is no longer with us after passing away from a brief but courageous fight against a rare and very aggressive form of ovarian cancer in 2016, you can still enjoy her performance in the video below.