NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Nashville has long been known as the city where musical dreams come true. But those dreams may not be realized quickly.
Husband and wife country duo, The Dryes, have carved out a place for themselves over the years by writing songs with characteristic transparency about life and love.
Derek and Katelyn Drye met in 2008 in their native state of North Carolina. Derek was finishing up his marketing degree at UNC Greensboro, and Katelyn had just recorded her first EP in Nashville at the age of 19.
“Katelyn and I met through mutual friends,” Derek Drye recalled. “My best buddy was actually dating her best friend.”
The blind date at a Mexican restaurant went so well, they stood in the parking lot and talked for hours.
“I went home and said to my buddy who introduced us ‘I don’t know how you knew, but I’m probably gonna marry this girl,'” Derek Drye said.
The connection was surprising to Katelyn, who claimed ‘I’m never gonna get married unless I meet this person.’ She had a list of qualities her future husband needed to meet. Derek checked all the boxes.
Derek and Katelyn each loved music separately but never talked about making music together until an unlikely performance after a death in Derek’s family.
“I just remember looking at him in that moment,” Katelyn Drye said. “I remember it clear as day – just [thinking] ‘this is special and we have something that actually has chemistry when we sing together.'”
The pair married in 2011 and started making a plan to pursue music together.
“We were writing songs back home, but we really didn’t have a community of songwriters there,” Derek Drye said.
They knew that to advance their music career, they needed to move to Nashville. So the pair took the leap in 2014.
“We moved here with nothing but what was in our car,” Katelyn Drye recalled. “We lived with some family friends who were like ‘we believe in y’all, and we want you to stay at our place for free until you find where you want to work and live.'”
To make ends meet, Katelyn began nannying for families. Derek worked at the Apple store at the Green Hills Mall and had touring stints with other acts.
“[Derek] toured with different other artists, ya know, did the guitar thing for people, but we knew we wanted to be a duo,” Katelyn Drye said.
The pair wrote songs alone for many years while they honed their craft, writing songs to fit their voices and their lives.
“It does seem like a literal process,” says Derek. “We write about things that we’re going through – and we could put that in a story in other creative ways, but it feels most natural when it is kinda raw in the co-writing session.”
Their first single, Amen, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim. Their follow-up release, “War” touched on the dire pain of Derek’s mom’s suicide when he was just a baby.
The Dryes amassed a growing legion of fans who loved how the couple refused to shy away from their truth through raw and honest songwriting. Today, “War” has gone on to collect more than five million streams on Spotify alone.
But the pair got the mainstream break they’ve been working toward for eight years. On Tuesday, November 9th, CMT began airing their latest music video, “Dolly Would,” multiple times a day. The song plays into Dolly Parton’s legendary sass and confidence. Katelyn sings, “say the bleach went to my brain, say my dreams are so insane, oh but I’m just gonna do what Dolly would.”
The video was named CMT’s “Next Up Now” pick of the week on Nov. 11. It’s a prominent placement for their newest release.