It took Hannah Dasher exactly 11 years to come out of nowhere and tackle the country music genre with her loud cackle, loose wisecracks and long eyelashes. But now that's she's here, there is only one thing that will keep her from ever being forgotten again.
And that's her undeniable talent.
"I've been simmering a little bit, trying to get my pistol loaded before I go to the gunfight," Dasher, 32, tells PEOPLE from her house in Nashville, a home that somewhat resembles the vintage country music pads of old. "But I'm locked and loaded now. Listen, I've been stuffing my bra since I was 7 years old, and last year, I was able to afford not to stuff them anymore."
A country pistol who prefers bell-bottoms over skinny jeans and curling irons over straighteners currently finds herself making a whole bunch of noise in Nashville, not only with the release of her Sony Music Nashville debut The Half Record, but also her proclamation of a single "You're Gonna Love Me."
"I thought it would be too cocky, but ["You're Gonna Love Me" co-writer] Thomas [Archer] was like, 'Of all people Hannah, you're the one that can pull it off,'" remembers Dasher of the song, who she also wrote with Andy Albert and Gordie Sampson and whose performance video premieres exclusively on PEOPLE. "I intended for it to be my new show opener (for her TikTok cooking show Stand by Your Pan) and then I put it on Tik Tok, and it just went crazy."
Crazy just might be an understatement. With 1.3 million TikTok followers and over 15 million views of her "Hannah Damn Dasher" content, Dasher finds herself riding the wave to country music stardom at the moment, but the question remains - where the heck did she come from?
Well, she came from Georgia.
"I've always been an old soul," says Dasher, a University of Georgia grad directly influenced by the music of Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., Tom Petty, Eric Church, and Aretha Franklin. "I've always just taken to the classic country sound and '90s country. But yeah, I blew the speakers out in my trailblazer in high school with Lynyrd Skynyrd."
After flailing around a bit as a songwriter in the unofficial home of songwriters while also working at the local Bass Pro Shops to pay the bills, Dasher landed a publishing deal, got signed by a bigtime label, and snagged a cut for Brad Paisley courtesy of "Go to Bed Early." And in 2019, mere months before the pandemic, Dasher decided to unleash some of her humor on a little social media platform called TikTok.
"It took me a year to learn how to use it, but I knew that I knew that I had to showcase my personality somehow," says Dasher, who started sharing videos in early 2020. "I knew I needed to take advantage of it to do that, especially since we weren't touring last year and I had no intention to just standby, or for it to blow up like it did, but it did."
In fact, this newfound stardom means that Dasher can't go to the grocery store without getting noticed, can't go to the airport without someone wanting a picture, can't talk about country music without someone telling her that they don't like it ... but they love her.
"I think whatever they were missing in country music, they are finding in me," says Dasher, who also snagged co-writing credits on Lainey Wilson's song "LA" off her 2019 EP Redneck Hollywood. "Whatever it is they are liking, I'm just glad that it's working."
And while Dasher is getting much attention for her sound and looks at the moment, she stands for so much more.
"I'm a healthy, curvy woman," she proclaims proudly. "I've always tried to embrace that and, being a public figure, I just feel like it's empowering to other women to show them how to embrace themselves and their imperfections and everything that makes them who they are."
Dasher grows quiet, as if something quite profound is about to come out of her lipstick-lined mouth.
Then she quips, "I might not be the sexiest crayon in the box, but as long as I think I am, I can get through life with a smile on my face."