Ronnie Gene Dunn (1953–)

With a slew of chart-topping singles to his credit as half of the duo Brooks & Dunn, Ronnie Gene Dunn established himself as a member of the most award-winning duo in country music. Though Arkansas is not considered his home state, he has earned a spot in its musical history.

Ronnie Dunn was born on June 1, 1953, in Coleman, Texas, to Jesse Eugene Dunn and Gladys Inez Thurmon Dunn. His father was a musician who also worked in the oil fields and drove trucks; his mother was a devout Baptist who, in the 1960s, lived in El Dorado (Union County) and worked as a bookkeeper at the First National Bank and then as a telephone operator at Warner Brown Hospital. Dunn played the saxophone in El Dorado’s school band while also honing his musical ear by listening to Ace Cannon records purchased for him by his father. He moved around the country, attending thirteen schools in twelve years in El Dorado, western Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. After graduating from high school at Port Isabel, Texas, he enrolled Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and stayed there for two years before transferring to Abilene Christian College with plans to become a Baptist preacher, but he was asked to leave the latter school after he was seen performing music in bars. Dunn then continued performing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 1990, Dunn moved from Tulsa to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was subsequently introduced to Kix Brooks. The two songwriters quickly formed a partnership. Brooks & Dunn’s first album, Brand New Man (1991), spawned the hit single “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” They have since produced more than twenty hits and won more awards than any other duo in the genre of country music.

Dunn has three children with his wife, Janine, whom he married on May 19, 1990.

Brooks & Dunn have been named “Entertainers of the Year” three times by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and once by the Country Music Association (CMA). In 2008, the duo published their first novel The Adventures of Slim and Howdy, with collaborator Bill Fitzhugh. Dunn was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in 2002/2003. In August 2009, the duo announced it would split up upon completion of its last tour in 2010.

In 2011, Dunn released his first solo album, titled Ronnie Dunn. He released his second solo album, Tattooed Heart, in 2016.

For additional information:
Brooks & Dunn. (accessed November 10, 2020).

Hill, Jack. “Brooks, Dunn to Play Something Country.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 24, 2007, pp. 6W–7W.

“Ronnie Dunn Story.” Online at (accessed November 10, 2020).

Sculley, Alan. “For Brooks & Dunn, the Work Never Ends.” The Herald & Review, August 15, 2008.

Elizabeth Whitaker
Little Rock, Arkansas


    Ronnie Dunn surprised fans in downtown Nashville for CMA Music Festival activities in summer 2013 when he performed four songs on the rooftop patio of Rippy’s Bar and Grill on lower Broadway. The performance happened as fans were departing the Bridgestone Arena after watching the CMT Awards. Dunn debuted four new songs: “Country This,” “Kiss You There,” “Cowgirls Rock ‘N’ Roll,” and “Peace, Love and Country Music.” During “Kiss You There,” a flash mob took over Broadway for an impromptu dance to the delight of the crowd.

    Elliott Cunningham