Jacobus Grows On Country Music Journey

Iowa defensive lineman Dalles Jacobus is making connections with his songwriting. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen-Imagn Content Services)

Pete Ruden

All Iowa defensive lineman Dalles Jacobus needed to launch his country music career was a fishing trip.

That’s where he wrote the chorus for “We Wave,” a viral song that honors the Hawkeyes’ first-quarter tradition of waving at the kids in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital across the street from Kinnick Stadium.

And even then, it happened by accident.

Jacobus never set out to write “We Wave.” He never set out to perform it. Instead, he picked up guitar when he suffered a back injury the summer before his redshirt sophomore season. It served as a hobby and a way to take his mind off the injury.

Eventually, he learned a few chords. Then it hit him.

“I was like, ‘I know enough to play a song. I might know enough to write a song,’” Jacobus said. “When I performed it for the first time at my buddy’s family gathering, they took a video and it blew up. I was like, ‘Hey, maybe I got something here.’”

Jacobus has continued to grow since. Despite focusing on his music instead of growing his brand, Jacobus’ music presence in Iowa and the Midwest has started to take off.

In June, Jacobus co-wrote and featured on the title track of fellow Iowan Adam Whitehead’s EP “Single Mom,” which made it up to No. 2 on the Apple country album charts.

While success came along with it, it wasn’t an easy process.

Jacobus comes from a two-parent household, and he struggled to write his part of the song. Until he called his aunt, a single mother raising two kids.

“I realized I’m very fortunate in that aspect, especially today,” Jacobus said. “I kind of tried to write the song, and I realized I had no basis to write the song off of. I tried for about two weeks and couldn’t come up with a single word… We had probably an hour and a half, two-hour conversation on the phone of her just telling me stories of the scary times when she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it and all that.”

About 15 minutes later, Jacobus had his song written, rehearsed, and sent back to his aunt.

His presence in the country music industry didn’t stop there, however.

Jacobus recently made a trip to Nashville in which he met up with Grammy Award-winning songwriter Ivan Gutierrez.

Jacobus’ uncle’s girlfriend is a recording artist in Nashville, and she introduced the two.

When they played a few of his songs for Gutierrez, he liked what he heard, locking up a future connection for Jacobus.

“He liked it, and so we asked if he’d be willing to work with me, and he was all about it — he’s just a really down-to-earth guy,” Jacobus said. “I got to pick his brains a little bit. We talked about the music industry and all that stuff. I sent him a few of my songs, so we’re going to get working on those hopefully sooner rather than later.”

A range of influences can be seen in Jacobus’ work.

He resonates with Luke Combs, because much like himself, he didn’t learn to play guitar until he was 21, allowing Jacobus to pick up his early songs on the guitar quickly.

He also enjoys Jason Aldean because of the rock influence in his music. Jacobus said he also listens to hard rock, including Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, and Shinedown, which can fit, in a way, with Aldean’s music.

Jacobus also noted George Strait and Tracy Lawrence, two legends of the country music world.

“I have a very, very broad range of influence,” Jacobus said. “I’m really happy that I have that because it allows me to write songs with different tones and different perspectives.”

Those influences will likely be heard in Jacobus’ upcoming music as well.

Because he made football a priority when he arrived in Iowa City, Jacobus said he hadn’t really attacked music head-on until the COVID-19 pandemic came along.

He plans to pursue music even more when his football career ends. Jacobus said he has finished about 10 songs, with five or six he’s truly confident in.

While Jacobus has played shows in the past, he can’t perform live now because coronavirus regulations would keep him out of the Hawkeyes’ football facility.

When football concludes, however, he hopes to work his way up to bigger venues while putting out a fully-produced EP with about five or six songs.

And if “We Wave” is any indication, the Iowa community will be by his side the whole way.

“It’s the Iowa way — Iowans support Iowans,” Jacobus said. “There’s countless examples. Obviously, from Iowa football to the flood of 2008. Iowans are always helping Iowans and supporting Iowans. You can’t come from a better place if you want support from strangers.”

Music has also given Jacobus one thing he finds particularly meaningful: a bond with the families at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Jacobus said he received the opportunity to talk with countless families after the song made its way to social media. He estimated it took three or four weeks to reply to all of the direct messages he received about it.

Jacobus’ mother, Shelley, works as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, so he also had the chance to connect with families his mom had cared for.

Despite never setting out to make a public impact with his music, Jacobus wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It was just cool hearing how much my mom had touched those families, and then on top of that, I was able to do it, too,” Jacobus said. “It just kind of came full circle. It was never planned to be like that, but everything happens for a reason, and I’m really glad that it did.”

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I was fortunate enough to work with Dalles on a project with a young boy whom I was helping to homeschool. Dalles gave his time and talents to help a six-year-old tell his story of what it was like to be the older brother of the youngest surviving twins in the world. Dalles made a connection with this family through the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. He is a man of character, in today's world that is something to be proud of and respected. We wish him well in his future endeavors and can't wait to download his first songs!