Country vocalist Dawn Sears, a member of the Grammy-nominated Time Jumpers and backup singer for Vince Gill, has passed away at the age of 53, after a battle with lung cancer.

A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., Sears started her career as a solo artist in the '90s. She released 'What a Woman Wants' in 1991, but when it didn't perform as well as she'd hoped, Sears decided to leave country music. Her plans changed after a call from Gill, asking her to be one of the backup singers on his 1993 album, 'I Still Believe in You.' She remained in Gill's band for numerous years, also working with Tracy Byrd, Merle HaggardPatty Loveless, Ronnie Milsap and others.

The following year, Sears was the first act signed to Decca Records and released her second solo album, 'Nothin' But Good.' Its lead single, 'Runaway Train,' made it onto the country charts, though the following singles were not as successful, and Sears left Decca. She released a self-titled album independently in 2002.

Sears was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2012; a year later, it was announced that the disease had reached Stage 3B. She recently participated in a fundraiser, held in her name and headlined by Reba McEntire, to raise money for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and continued to perform with the Time Jumpers while receiving treatment.

Sears is survived by her husband Kenny, a fiddle player and another member of the Time Jumpers, whom she met in 1986 and married six months later, as well as their daughter Tess. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

The Boot extends our condolences to Sears' loved ones.

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