Devin Dawson may not like smiling in pictures (at least, according to the lyrics of his latest tune, “Dark Horse,”) but soon he’ll have plenty of wedding pictures to pose for: The country star has officially announced his engagement to his longtime girlfriend, fellow singer-songwriter Leah Sykes.
According to People, Dawson popped the question while the two were on a trip to San Francisco on Sunday (March 10) to celebrate their two-year anniversary. The singer proposed privately on a rooftop bar at the new downtown Virgin Hotel, which technically isn’t even open for business yet.
“We went up for a ‘nightcap,’ but when the elevator opened, our song was playing, there were candles everywhere and we had the rooftop to ourselves,” Dawson recalls to People. “I think it hit her then, because she just started bawling! I was really proud of actually catching her off guard. I got down on one knee and she screamed ‘YES!’ to me with the entire city behind us.”
He goes on to explain that neither the date nor the location was incidental. “Sunday was the two year anniversary of our first date, and I’ve known for a while now that I wanted that to be the day that I propose to her,” Dawson continues. “I wanted to set that date in stone so we could always remember how important March 10 is to us.”
As for the decision to propose in San Francisco, Dawson says that it meant a lot to ask such an important question in a city that has been a big influence in his life. “I grew up around San Francisco, and she’s never been,” he relates. “We made a trip out of it, and I got to show her around one of my favorite cities in the world.”
Even if Sykes suspected what was in store while they were touring some of the city’s romantic spots, Dawson bided his time and waited until the proposal would be a true surprise.
“I think she might have suspected that I would pop the question this weekend when I took her to all my favorite spots — Ocean Beach, The Presidio, Twin Peaks — but I wanted to try and surprise her when she least suspected it,” he adds. “So I waited until late Saturday night … When it turned midnight (our anniversary), our good friends at Virgin Hotels let me take over their rooftop bar.”
The “All on Me” singer and Sykes both went to school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. They met through several chance encounters.
Before he turned his focus to country music, Dawson toured with a death metal band that included his twin brother Jacob. Their band name was Shadow of the Colossus, and, yes, you can still find their music online.
“We were literally playing heavy metal, screaming, super-fast, technical death metal,” he tells People. “We would do what I call slum touring — $150 a night, 13-hour drives, sleeping in a van with a bunch of dudes kind of thing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world — it helped me find my perspective — but I grew up listening to country, and that’s how I learned how to write songs. I had always done that on the side, just to please my own heart and mind, and eventually that took over more of my heart than the band.”
Dawson came to Nashville to write songs, rather than sing them; in fact, that YouTube fame resulted in a publishing contract.