By Ladonna Rodriquez 

What are the odds that two young women, raised on dairy farms at opposite ends of the country, would both move to Nashville to pursue their passion of careers in the music industry and then meet? The odds are minuscule, but it happened as if it was written in an adventure novel. Shelby Dressel, 32, and Megan Gertken, 33, are two such artists who frequently found themselves performing in the same bands in downtown Nashville. Once they met and discovered the common thread they shared in music, writing style, and family backgrounds, the two decided to write music together. They were destined to form a band, and in 2016 “The Dairy Daughters” was born. 

Raised on Dressel Dairy in rural Avon Park, Shelby hails from a musical family: both her father, Gary Dressel, and brothers sing, write, and play guitar, so it was only natural that she would learn as well. She occasionally joined her father and siblings, singing with them in their band. Her first official performance was at church when she was a mere seven years old, and it set her on the trajectory that has brought surprising, wonderful experiences and beneficial connections. 

Dressel auditioned for American Idol at the insistence of her aunt Michelle Sedlock, and her talent earned her a spot in the final forty-six. The opportunities that the A.I. experience provided were significant, and included performing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, as well as being the opening act for both the band, Boston, and for Sammy Kershaw. 

Megan’s life experiences on her family’s dairy farm in Albany, Minnesota influenced her as well. “Growing up on a dairy farm, all of us kids were outside helping with chores at a very young age, and seeing my family work together really shaped how I view the world,” Megan says. She began playing piano at age six and took up the fiddle at age nine. She moved to Nashville at age nineteen, eventually opening for Kris Kristofferson and others. Megan loves to write her own music, sharing her life story in the process. 

The Dairy Daughters’ style can best be described as a sisterly harmony with acoustic strings and warm fiddle playing, with feel-good, backporch songs. They call it “easy listening, grass fed, organic country gold” and credit the likes of Lee Ann Womack, George Strait, Patty Loveless and others for the direction of their music. Their writing process is a creative effort, whether a song begins with storylines from life experiences, picking melodies on the guitar, or a bit of both. The duo finds inspiration from life, love and self image for many of their songs.

A favorite song of Megan’s is “Farmer’s Day Off,” as it relates to her youth, working the farm with family and the elusive day off. “Mountains” is a personal favorite of Shelby’s and was inspired by her mother, Kathy Dressel, whose love of the mountains is quoted in the song: “the mountains were so beautiful, like being closer to heaven.” That lyric is made even more special given the fact that Kathy is now in heaven. Shelby notes that the song “Mountains” helps many who have experienced loss as they listen to the words and melody. 

In the decade or so that they have lived in Nashville and since forming the Dairy Daughters duo, many opportunities have presented themselves that otherwise may not have been available. Countless talented and famous musicians call Nashville home, and the Dairy Daughters have been fortunate to perform with a great number of them live and in recording studios. The pair has performed in Norway and Denmark and also made regular treks to their respective home states where the Dairy Daughters is always a hot ticket. 

As a new mother, Shelby brings daughter Stella along and has since she was four months old. “Stella falls right into our travels, and most of the time she is at the shows singing and clapping and dancing along.” Shelby says. “It’s a really beautiful thing to be raising my child around music, and the fact that she is growing up around some of the best musicians and writers in the country will be really cool to share with her as she grows up. She’ll definitely be musical.” 

Continuing their music goals is not without obstacles, but Shelby notes, “It’s about finding a balance of being a full time momma and continuing to play, write music and travel for shows. It can be challenging to find time after playing shows all day long, to schedule time to create.” 

Megan related: “We are getting back to it slowly but surely, and finding a new groove!” 

The Dairy Daughters will be releasing a new song in the next few months, entitled “Grandpa’s Flowers,” which Shelby describes as “a beautiful song we wrote with my brother Logan Dressel about Megan’s grandfather, who planted flowers.” A sampling of the lyrics include: “Now he feels the wind in Chicago, hears the music in Tennessee, along the lakes of Minnesota, living that California dream, split ’em up between the family, plant them everywhere we go, a reminder he’s still with us, wherever grandpa’s flowers grow.” 

“Being able to play music for a living is such an incredible opportunity, and the people that support us from all over the world are who make that happen. Also, I think being able to play with incredible band members on a daily basis is an equally important opportunity,” says Megan. 

To have already accomplished so much at their tender ages, from performing in church to performing in Nashville; from competing on American Idol to touring across continents; from performing with family groups to introducing their children to music, Shelby and Megan are the stuff that successful musicians are made of . . . grit, determination, perseverance, confidence, and of course, talent. The Dairy Daughters may be young women who “throw on a holey pair of jeans and a hat, leave my hair in a mess” as their 2017 single “Tomboy” describes, but when it concerns their music, they “dress to impress.” 

The Dairy Daughters is currently performing in Nashville, but look for them to be back in Florida again in the future. The Dairy Daughters may be reached at Their music is available on iTunes, Spotify and other music platforms. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.