Over the past five years, Georgia native Dalton Dover followed a typical enough path to Nashville notoriety. A 2017 run on The Voice as part of Blake Shelton's team preceded more recent career strides on TikTok. Trending covers of Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill and other influences plus soaring streaming numbers for Dalton's own material begat a deal with Droptine Records and a spot on Spotify's Hot Country 2022 Artists to Watch list.
That said, don't let Dover and his team's mastery of making the most of modern technology overshadow the lifetime of hard work that went into developing a voice that's smooth yet commanding and an ear for a potential breakout hit— two senses needed to reap lasting rewards from what otherwise might've been fleeting attention.
Dover's preparation for this moment began as a child in the Aragon community (population 1,440) in Northwest Georgia. Like many small-town Southerners, he discovered his gift for entertaining a crowd while displaying literal child-like faith.
"I started singing in the Southern Baptist church," Dover told Wide Open Country. "My grandpa would call me up to the stage, and I think that's where I got real comfortable singing in front of people. Then I guess as I got older, the guitar was super interesting, so I picked the guitar up and started singing songs the way I would record them. That's when people started loving what I do."
Beyond encouraging Dover to sing "I'll Fly Away" on Sunday mornings for 15 to 20 parishioners, Grandpa passed down an appreciation for Marty Robbins and Elvis Presley. Dover's late brother-in-law, Brandon Morris, filled other gaps in the future rising artist's country music knowledge.
"[Morris] introduced me to guitar parts that I never even knew existed," Dover said. "Through him, I found out about 'Dinosaur' by Hank Williams Jr., 'The Ride' by David Allan Coe. You know, legendary stuff like that."
The tougher realities of growing up in Polk County —the same rural stretch Sam Hunt's from— plus the blessings that come with marrying his hometown sweetheart and becoming a father of two at a young age further fuel Dover's commitment to reach that next mile marker on his map to stardom.
"I didn't really grow up poor, but I grew up in a place where it was just me, my mom, my brother and my sister," he explained. "We didn't always have everything that we wanted. I feel like with the career that I'm building right now, I'm able to give my kids a better life than what I had growing up."
Over the last two years, Dover's sang about drinking to forget ("With All the Memories"), his rural roots ("You Got a Small Town") and true love (10 million-plus streaming hit "Baby I Am" and current digital single "Hear About a Girl"). Each new song by the team of Dover and producer Matt McV (Matt McVaney) follows the lead of Jon Pardi, Miranda Lambert and other superstars with a sound that's accessible to the mainstream yet rooted in country music's rich past.
There are more mile markers ahead for Dover as he moves his family from Aragon to Nashville, finishes an EP and daydreams about one of his ultimate short-term goals: an invite to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
"It's not where I want to be at, but it's a step up from where I was," Dover said of his current situation. "It's only up from here, so I'm going to keep working and keep striving and maybe [my streaming numbers] will be at 100 million one day. These people love my songs, but I'm ready to reach more people. One day I hope to be a superstar. It that's in God's plan for me, then perfect. I just want to make music, reach people, touch people with my songs and sing my ass off."
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