LOCKWOOD, Mo. — When most girls are thinking a multitude of other things, Cheyenne Dalton took a musical leap of faith.
The then 9-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands to expand her performance opportunities in bluegrass music.
With the help of a few others, Dalton formed the musical group known as That Dalton Gang.
Now, 10 years later, the band has earned a multitude of honors through the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America.
During the Midwest region conference earlier this month in Jefferson City, the group as it exists now earned nominations in 11 divisions.
Band members — Dalton on mandolin and vocals; Mason Ruble, banjo; Wyatt Harmon, bass; and Jimmy Meyer, guitar — brought home three group awards: album, instrumental group and band of the year.
Additionally, Dalton earned mandolin and female vocalist honors, while Ruble won for his banjo playing and Harmon brought home bass player and entertainer awards.
“It’s crazy,” Dalton said. “I never thought we would win everything. When they called us for the first award — album of the year — I was so happy. Then they went on and called more and more.
“It’s incredible. I can’t believe we won all eight. We are so blessed the members of SPBGMA voted for us.”
Dalton said the band has changed a lot in the past nine years.
“As we’ve expanded and grown the band; we’ve brought in different people with new ideas,” she said. “As we’ve gained new members, it helps the band grow.”
How it began
Dalton began playing classical violin at the age of 4. By the age of 8, she knew playing music would be in her future. She moved toward bluegrass music after taking part in a fiddle contest.
When the band formed, she switched from fiddle to mandolin, a stringed instrument that uses the same fingering as a violin.
“I love bluegrass because it’s such a fun genre to play,” Dalton said. “It has endless possibilities. You can play whatever comes to mind, and play whatever you want.”
Initially, That Dalton Gang included Dalton, her sister, a pair of brothers and her fiddle teacher, Russ Weeks. The band has changed through the years, and Dalton remains the only original member. The current formation emerged about two years ago.
“It’s taken me lots of places and has been a ton of fun,” Dalton said. “We’ve had so many cool experiences. I’ve met so many people and made so many friends. Without music, I would have never known them. Music connects you with people.”
While Dalton is preparing to earn a cosmetology degree, she always plans to have music in her life.
The band is preparing for a busy 2020 season, with shows throughout the Midwest, as well as Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Indiana. The group will also perform at Silver Dollar City.
For now, the group primarily plays covers. The members are working with some songwriting friends on potential original works.
Some of Dalton’s favorite covers include “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger and “Going on the Next Train” by Carrie Hassler, two songs audience members might not expect to hear.
“We’re just a fun group,” Dalton said. “We’re not just friends on stage, but off. We love to hang out with each other. The band, as it is now is a great group. We plan to stay together to see how far we can go.
Thorough it all, Dalton has learned to persevere, even when the going gets tough. She tells young artists to keep going, because the time invested pays off.
She has also learned how to take criticism and who to listen to when it comes to advice.
“Never give up,” Dalton said. “If you want to play music, keep working for it. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Dalton said she’s blessed that her talent and ability to create music has given her a fun, relaxing creative outlet.
“I’m going to keep pushing forward,” Dalton said. “I love playing music. No matter what happens, I’ll keep playing and pressing forward.”
Away from the musical stage, Dalton is also a competitive shooter. She’s earned influencer status on Instagram and represents several sponsors with her efforts.
She describes herself as a “fun person” who loves to do everything: cooking and baking, spending time outdoors, and, of course, playing music and taking part in shooting sports.
Visit the group’s Facebook page by searching “That Dalton Gang.”