Female Friday: Hannah Dasher

Dasher hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it.

Female Friday: Hannah Dasher
Hannah Dasher; Photo credit: Kylie Rebecca

You may know her for her wise-cracking sense of humor and sparkling personality on her social media cooking show, Stand By Your Pan, but Hannah Dasher’s talents extend far beyond the kitchen. When the proud Georgia native’s not whipping up some of her favorite family recipes with her own personal twist, she’s owning the stage as a singer-songwriter and guitar player with sharp lyrics to match.

In this edition of Female Friday, Dasher talks about the inspiration behind Stand By Your Pan, how her new album The Half Record blends her musical influences and her dreams that extend beyond country music.

What led you to music? Was there a moment when you realized that music is what you wanted to do for your career?

Mother said I was singing before I could talk. I’ve never not known loving music. I was always listening to the radio. I looked forward to going to school and to coming home from school because we got to listen to country radio in the 90s. It was great, it was that good. On the weekends my parents, there’s always music going at some point because we liked to entertain. They like to cook and host people and throw parties and there’s always music going and they loved to play the songs that made them fall in love. There’s the Eagles and Foreigner and Keith Whitley and early George Strait stuff. I couldn’t get enough of all of that. And then enter puberty and high school and when I discovered boys, I discovered their music, and I really took off [on] rock and roll and Zeplin, ACDC, and Lynyrd Skynyrd is my favorite band of all time.

I’ve always known that I wanted to be an artist and a singer. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a songwriter until college, I didn’t know that I had it in me. I had a lot of personality. Daddy gave me a guitar when I was 14 and I taught myself how to play, but I had no idea that women could play lead or women could take solos and do any of that. I had no idea until I was in my 20s and I saw a video of Bonnie Raitt playing slide and I’m like, ‘sh— girls can do that too? I want to do it.’ And so it took that and Jaren Johnston, one of my rock and roll and songwriting, guitar heroes here in town, he’s a front man of The Cadillac Three. Joe Kennedy gave me a 69 Telecaster with a P90 rock and roll pickup. It was a country rock and roll guitar and [Johnston] was like ‘here, learn it. I know you can.’ So in between cleaning houses and writing songs and doing what I had to do, I started teaching myself a little guitar. I’m not a Jason Isbell or a Clapton or anything, Lindsay Ell, she’s so talented, and Clare Dunn. I play a few solos live and I enjoy pretty guitars and I’m thankful to be one of the Fender Next artists. They’re giving me all these free guitars now. I don’t deserve them, but I’ll take them. I got a Fender in one hand and a frying pan in the other.

Tell me about what inspired you to become a songwriter and what led you to Nashville?

My parents divorced my freshman year of college and it was a new experience. It was a new kind of loss that I wasn’t prepared for and had never experienced. We all have to deal with things in our own way, and my release was writing. It was like a hurricane, I literally had to push that emotion out in some way. My first couple songs were terrible, but I started playing one or two for my friends and they kept asking to hear them again every time we get together and I was like, ‘well hell, maybe I should start putting more energy into it,’ and so I did. And thank God I did because it’s what’s put food on my table for the last eight or nine years being here in Nashville.

I was terrified to move, but I found a job in Savannah at the Bass Pro Shops. If I gave them six months of my time, they promised to transfer me to Nashville to that store, which was right in the parking lot at the Grand Ole Opry. Working retail with a college degree and coming from a good old established family, it was humbling. But even more so, my parents let me do it on my own and even against my wishes sometimes. I really could have used some help, but I’m so thankful for the tough love. It really made a survivor out of me and a problem solver and it really kept that hunger and that fire alive. I’d have to look at the Opry every day, and so it really helped my attitude and made me appreciative and thankful every time I’d go into work. Now I live one exit away, so I pass by the Opry and the Bass Pro Shops. I got to see my face and my name on that Opry billboard, and it was wild. It’s like, ‘damn, I’m doing this,’ so I try to celebrate those big victories in my life.

What’s the inspiration behind your TikTok cooking show, Stand By Your Pan?

Originally when I had the idea eight or nine years ago, I wanted to have a late night comedy-infused cooking show, like Jimmy Fallon meets Paula Deen. It’s something that I wanted to expand into as an artist. But with the onset of COVID and quarantine, we’re all forced into our homes and shut up and spending a thousand dollars a month on groceries. I figured, ‘now’s the time to amp up my TikTok and I don’t want to just fool around with the Stand By Your Pan idea,’ because I went to a lawyer’s office and had that copyrighted because I felt like it was a cool idea that I could do something with in the future when I had the time and the resources to do that. Lo and behold, it took off, and now I can’t go to the grocery store or the Home Depot or the airport without taking a picture with somebody. It’s crazy and humbling the reach that platform has given me, so I’m really thankful.

Where do you get your recipes from?

My family loves to cook. I’m a seventh generation Georgia colonist. My people landed there in the early 1700s. We’re opinionated, but we’re known for being hard-headed and for being great cooks, so the recipes that I create are usually a spin on the family recipes. When you’re in mama’s kitchen, mama is the queen, you don’t tell her how to cook her dish. That’s her realm. But in my kitchen, I’m the queen, and so I cook things the way I want to, and I prefer the recipes to most because I just love to eat [laughs]. But most of the time, I’m doing things off the fly. I try to be as exact as possible, and I got all that written down so that when the cookbook comes out next year you’ll be able to recreate these dishes too. I’ve gotten such great feedback though from everybody that’s cooking the dishes and my stepmother is making some of my pound cakes. [My stepmother] is known as the cake queen. She makes beautiful cakes and it just tickled me to death she made my lemon blueberry. She’s made a couple of them that she’s taken to different events, so that’s a compliment in itself.

A lot of what I make are dishes that I grew up eating, like my daddy’s chicken and dumplings, and while I did put my own little spin on it, it was sentimental for me. But then again, I cook the late Lynda Petty, she’s wife to NASCAR legend Richard Petty, I’ve got some of her old family recipes and I tend to use her crust now on my recipes because I think it’s fabulous, but I’ve used some of hers and Tammy Wynette, that’s the queen. I’ve got a lot of her old recipes and so I try to incorporate those every now and then because I like to stand up with the name, Stand By Your Pan. I keep a picture of Tammy Wynette and George Jones in my kitchen, it’s hilarious. They’re locked arms like they’re a couple at their wedding, but it’s in their kitchen. They’re locked arms like a bride and groom, and she’s got a bottle of wine and a glass of wine in one hand, he’s got a wine glass and a can of grape soda in the other [laughs]. I got The Possum and Tammy Wynette right here in my kitchen with me and all my grandmothers and my aunts and all the stuff that I’ve collected.

Hannah Dasher; Cover art courtesy of Sony Music Nashville

On the music front, how would you describe your album, The Half Record?

I think about “You’re Gonna Love Me,” and basically the song’s saying, ‘I may not be for everybody, but if you’re into this, you’re going to love me.’ Who doesn’t like to smoke a cigarette every now and then whenever they drink. I think smoking is trashy, but I smoke when I drink and and I’m a sucker for things that say made in USA, and my audience is too. I have a younger audience now thanks to TikTok, and they didn’t have the luxury of growing up with 90s country radio and hearing Reba McEntire and [Mark] Chesnutt and Alan Jackson and all the stuff that I love. When I listen back, I love that I can hear my 80s and 90s country influences in my music. [Producer Brandon Hood] did a great job of capturing that, like on the song “Leave This Bar,” it’s got this Reba vibe to it, and then when you hear the band jamming and the breakdown at the end of “You’re Gonna Love Me,” and especially in “Left Right,” you hear my Lynyrd Skynyrd, honky tonk, swampy Jamey Johnson. You hear my influences in a lot of those songs, and so I’m really excited to see what The Half Record is going to do, to see the impact that it’s going to have. It’s an introduction to me — this is just the appetizer mama. We got the tomahawk ribeye now sitting out ready to go.

What are some of your other big dreams you hope to accomplish?

I want to be a representative of the country genre, but I want to be in Hollywood. I want to be in some films. It’s one of my bucket list dreams to be in an old Western or to kiss Matt McConaughey. I’d love to do some acting, not so much have a cooking show. I’m always going to cook and I’m always going to have a cookbook out there. I’m always going to want to entertain and I’ve got to make music, but I’d love to be a contributor on a [RuPaul’s] Drag Race and I want to play games with Jimmy Fallon. There’s a lot. Jesus is coming back before all this happens, let’s be honest, but ultimately I would like to go to Hollywood. I’d like to sell out stadiums. Ultimately, I’d like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. My dreams are as big as my hair, I’m just trying to keep up with right now.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

I was doing a Cameo video, I made one for a fellow that he’s like, ‘I had a really sh—— week and I love you and I love your music and you always brighten my day.’ When I read my TikTok comments, it’s a lot of that, ‘you brightened my day,’ ‘this is the highlight of my day,’ ‘this gives me life, ‘’I found so much joy here.’ When I realized the impact that my energy, my art has on people, it’s really opened my eyes this past year. I realized up until last year, I was doing this for me. But once I started reading those comments and doing videos like that, because I talk to my fans, I like to know what they want and who they are and where they’re coming from, it really broadened my perspective, because that’s why I’m here. I’m not here for me, I’m here to spread that joy, and that joy comes from my faith. I’m here to spread that and to reach and to reach God’s kingdom ultimately through whatever outlet that may be whether it’s with a Fender guitar or if it’s frying in a lodge skillet That’s the kind of a legacy that I’d like to leave is I want to leave people in a better place than I found them.