By Annabelle Ady
For Inland 360
Hailing from a ranch “in the middle of nowhere” in southeast Colorado, Clare Dunn is a country singer, writer, producer and featured member of Country Music Television’s 2019 Next Women of Country Tour. She is known for her songs “Tuxedo” and “My Love,” as well as her energetic performances and vocal range. Dunn is the headliner Friday night at Pullman’s National Lentil Festival. Before her performance, Inland 360 got to know her.
360: Which country artists are your greatest inspirations?
Dunn: Waylon Jennings is the top of the list. He was a rebel, and it wasn’t until he took off towards pursuing his true vision that he became the icon we all know and love. It wasn’t easy for him, nor was it fast. He wasn’t the rhinestone cowboy that was so popular at the time. He played that game, but then realized he needed to follow his own path, and that’s what’s so inspiring for me about Waylon — he cut his own path. And, of course, I love his music.
Reba is another hero of mine in terms of coming from very humble beginnings, like I did, and pursuing her dreams and passion to the fullest.
Loretta Lynn, she overcame so much to get her music heard, and she also just told the truth — her truth, but it was truth nonetheless. Shania Twain is another — she worked her tail off and just never quit. She had many failures starting out, but she never let those define her; she defined her failures and experience to get her on towards her dreams.
360: What’s your favorite musician outside the country scene?
Dunn: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, if they could be put into one person.
360: What’s been your favorite experience while on the road touring?
Dunn: I think the Bob Seger tour has been my favorite tour. It was a very special time for me and Bob couldn’t have been a nicer human or hero. He saw me walking down the hallway the first day of the tour and he gave me a big ol’ hug and said, “Hi Clare!” and I about lost it. I couldn’t believe he knew who I was, and it would have been just fine if he didn’t, but the fact that he’s Bob Seger, he’s done what he’s done, and then he is down to earth — it just is awesome when your heroes turn out to be awesome people as well.
360: Why did you choose country? Do you see yourself playing other genres?
Dunn: I don’t really think about it. Music is just music to me. I think everyone listens to different genres all the time and it’s unavoidable. I see myself just making music, and whatever genre it gets lumped into, then great. I mean, as a history buff of country music, true traditional country music isn’t played anywhere on mainstream anymore. So, even if you make a true traditional country record, it wouldn’t be classified as “country” it’d be like “neo-traditionalist country,” so I think genres are becoming more and more outdated. Just make good music and let that be the focus.
360: Do you have any new exciting projects in the works? If so what are they?
Dunn: Yes! I’m working with a very talented and amazing artist/rapper from Houston by the name of Ingrid. She’s such a talented musician and artist, and I’m just so grateful she came onto the project. She’s managed by, and on, Beyonce’s record label and team, so you know she’s got the goods and she brings the heat, which she did on this track. We’re doing a feature/remix of “My Love,” which is my current single that’s out now.
360: You’re part of CMT’s 2019 Next Women of Country Tour, what’s it like to be a woman breaking into the country music scene? Do you feel you need to meet certain expectations?
Dunn: I think it’s hard no matter who you are. I think there’s definitely a lot of weirdness about why there’s so fewer successful mainstream women in this genre, and there is a double standard on a lot of things, but I don’t really think about it. It’s not right, but I just keep my head down and charge on with my music. I think there’s more pressure on women for sure, pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way. I can tell you there’s definitely a double standard, and coming from a farm and ranch, I was grateful for how equal women and men were in my family and environment. I never experienced a double standard until I moved to Nashville.
360: Lastly, what is some advice you have for young musicians looking to break into the music industry?
Dunn: Just start where you are with whatever you’ve got. If you have a cafe or coffee shop or bar in your town, go ask them if you could play for tips. If your school has a talent show, ask to be in it. If there’s a choir, ask to join it. Just get yourself involved in music any way you can. There weren’t many opportunities for me in my area where I grew up, but I was involved with everything that I could be and it helped me and was a wonderful experience. If you don’t have an instrument, find one that speaks to you and buy a cheap one: guitar, piano, etc., so that you can have a tool to write songs and make records. Get a Mac laptop (used even) and start learning how to record in GarageBand. Just get going today wherever you are.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: National Lentil Festival
WHEN: 5-11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
WHERE: Spring Street and Reaney Park, Pullman
OF NOTE: Pullman will celebrate the lentil at its annual festival with a parade, vendors, food demonstrations, beer garden, live music and more. Find times in this week’s calendar.
5:30 p.m. Aaron Cerutti
6:35 p.m. Melodime
7:55 p.m. Brown & Gray
9:15 p.m. Clare Dunn
12:50 p.m. Andru Gomez and the Bad Apples
2:10 p.m. The Fabulous Kingpins
3:30 p.m. The Talbott Brothers