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Clare Dunn is a farm-raised country girl on a mission.  She grew up driving silage trucks, combines, and 18-wheelers, spending countless hours behind the wheel of a John Deere tractor—and on the back of a horse.  Her parents raised crops and cattle on the family farm in Southeast Colorado.

Dunn’s true passion, however, is music.  This country girl who drove 45 miles to school each day (and was one of only eight in her graduating high school class) took her passion to Nashville, earned a music degree from Belmont University, and learned to shred a guitar like a country Eric Clapton.

After two breakout hits in 2015, “Cowboy Side of You” and “Move On,” as well as accolades from USA Today, Billboard and Rolling Stone Magazine, the Colorado cowgirl blazed into 2016 with her first album on her MCA Nashville record label, simply titled, Clare Dunn.  Already the Huffington Post has labeled Dunn as one to watch in 2016.

Cowgirl caught up with the determined and easy going personality—who drew comparisons to Bonnie Raitt on tour this year, thanks in part to her impressive guitar chops and commanding stage presence—during the 2015 Stagecoach Festival in California, and we asked her about her two most important songs.

COWGIRL: What does your hit “Cowboy Side Of You” mean to you?

CLARE DUNN:  “Cowboy Side Of You” has been a monumental song for me because I put it out independently, and because of that song I had enough people out there supporting me, buying my music. It was making a connection with folks and because of that just sort of natural organic groundswell it caused me to get a record deal.  It’s been amazing. I can’t even put it into words because I wouldn’t be here without that song.  “Cowboy Side of You” was great because all the things that it said.  It was a message that I felt strongly about.  What that song did for me, it’s like having a horse out there—the horse that takes care of you that no matter what you do, if you ever mess up, whatever, that horse, he’s just there for you, and that’s what that song was for me. It was a launching pad for me.

COWGIRL: What was your inspiration for “Move On”? 

CLARE DUNN:  “Move On” was inspired by something I was going through with a guy.  We were kind of friends, but it was kind of flirty, and it was kind of in this weird zone.  I am actually very shy when it comes to all that. I didn’t really know how to process the whole situation other than to write a song about it.  It’s my attempt of encouraging a guy,  like ‘hey, just move on.’  And we all do that, guys and girls, we all get shy. We all get those moments when like ‘I really want this to happen, but then I don’t know what to do’ and so this is just like that encouraging step, maybe take a chance—take a risk—and maybe we could have a little fun.

Clare Dunn tours constantly.  She has opened for some of Country music’s biggest stars, including Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Hank Jr., Jamey Johnson, as well as Bob Seger.  You can see Clare in 2016 in Chris Young’s I’m Comin’ Over Tour.  For a full list of upcoming shows and appearances, and to listen to her music online, visit ClareDunn.com.