Sulphur Springs native Shawn Dodd named American County Countdown’s new superstar
BY TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor
Dec. 5, 2007 - Life is pretty sweet for singer/songwriter Shawn Dodd. On Thanksgiving weekend, the 1989 Sulphur Springs High School graduate was named American County Countdown radio’s newest superstar.
The weekly American Country Countdown is hosted on radio by country music star Kix Brooks, half of the legendary Brooks and Dunn vocal duo.
�This contest has been such a godsend,� Dodd said on a recent trip to his hometown. �I�m really looking forward to the experience and taking it all in.�
Dodd and his wife, Robin, a professional photographer, moved to Nashville in 2006 to follow his dream of becoming a country singer.
�I wanted to get into singing,� Dodd said. �I just didn�t know how to go about it.�
Dodd’s been singing since he was young, citing Alan Jackson, George Strait, Clint Black and his late father Don as his musical influences.
�My dad was a good singer,� said Dodd. �He would play John Denver songs and I�d sing along with him.�
Dodd got serious about singing when he was a college student at the University of North Texas in Denton.
�I wasn�t doing very well in school,� Dodd said. �I knew I wanted to sing.�
In 2000, he attended a seminar in Dallas hosted by Linda Septien, one of Texas’ best vocal coaches. Three hundred aspiring students attended the seminar, with 10 being picked to sing for a panel of experts.
�I was the only singer picked who wasn�t already one of Septien�s students,� Dodd explained. �I got some great advice from the panel and a lot of positive feedback.�
Dodd was working as a waiter while attending college, and was close to his coworkers.
�Then, tragedy struck,� Dodd said. �Three of the people I worked with died in a boating accident on Lake Lavon.�
It was after the accident that Dodd began to really focus on his music.
�I realized I could get hit by a truck tomorrow,� said Dodd. �I said, �I�m going to figure it [the music business] out. I�m going to do my music.��
Dodd spent time on the local Opry Circuit, playing at Johnny High’s Fort Worth review and doing shows at San Antonio’s Fiesta Texas and The Colgate Country Showdown. He also performed in Oklahoma, the Austin area, and even sang the National Anthem a few times at the Fort Worth Stockyards while he was still in college.
Dodd hooked up with Garland producer Mike McClain and Max Archer, who has worked with country artists LeAnn Rimes and Rodney Atkins.
Photo Courtesy of Robin Dodd
Shawn Dodd was named the overall winner in the American Country Countdown �Make Me a Superstar� contest by Kix Brooks, the show�s host and county music star. Dodd is the son of Cheryl Dodd and the late Don Dodd.
�Max said he liked my voice,� Dodd said. �He said I was doing the right thing.�
In 2004, Dodd cut an album, “State of Mind,” at McClain’s Garland studio. Without a major record label’s backing, the CD didn’t get consistent airtime on country radio.
However, Dodd received notice from his peers, receiving a nomination for the Terry Award, sponsored by the Fort Worth Songwriters Association.
�There is a country radio station in Seattle that sponsors a show for new artists,� Dodd said. �I sent the title track. They played it and told me it got the biggest and best response of all the artists they�ve featured.�
Thinking he had hit the big time, Dodd began calling record companies in Nashville, asking them to listen to the CD. He didn’t get much response.
�I knew I wanted to move to Nashville,� Dodd explained. �I don�t fit with the Texas sound.�
So the couple sold “most everything” they owned, packed up what was left and moved from Fort Worth to Nashville.
He immediately joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
�I had been a member of the Forth Worth Songwriters Association,� Dodd said. �I knew I could do a lot of networking with the Nashville group.�
He made friends with other aspiring artists and found work as a demo singer.
At first, Dodd did a lot of volunteer work for NSAI, delivering magazines to the major record companies. It was a good way to get his foot in the door.
�I had pounded the pavement and had a lot of doors shut in my face,� Dodd said. �Even though music is still being recorded in studios, the popularity of computer programs like ProTools has moved recording from the studio to the personal computer.�
Dodd decided to enter the American Country Countdown contest when he was driving from Birmingham to Nashville.
�I had done a gig for a friend at the Birmingham Bluebird and was on my way back home,� Dodd said. �I heard the contest advertised on the Jeff Foxworthy show and thought, �I don�t have anything to lose.��
When he got back to Nashville, he and Robin filmed Dodd sing 30 seconds of Brooks and Dunn’s hit “That Ain’t No Way to Go,” and sent it in to the show’s website.
The Countdown’s listeners must have liked what they saw and heard, because they voted Dodd the winner of the first week’s competition.
�Then, I had to wait five more weeks for the final results, but I had a good feeling about it,� Dodd said. �The big announcement was set for Thanksgiving weekend.�
That feeling evaporated as Thanksgiving approached, with no phone call from Countdown producers.
�The call came at 10:30 the night they shut down the voting,� Dodd said. �Then, Kix Brooks called for an interview.�
As the new country countdown superstar, Dodd won a one-song demo with a Nashville producer, a full-length interview with Brooks and a professional photo shoot.
�I�m really looking forward to working with the professionals,� Dodd said. �These people pave the way for new artists like me.�