Mark Dowdy is well known as a music producer and as an executive and owner of Rivercrest Music, and he is also known as a budding author with the release of his first book, Blind Faith. The autobiographical publication gives the powerful journey of Dowdy's life, as he was born blind and, in an effort to gain sight, he underwent 13 failed eye operations by age ten. Taking a break from all of the surgeries in his youth, Dowdy decided to stop any additional medical efforts. However, at 37-years-old he decided to try a new surgery that had more success with patients gaining eyesight. Blind Faith is an emotional and uplifting book that is now available at Barnes&Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Books-A-Million, Ingram., Spring Arbor, McNally Robinson, Russell Books and !ndigo.
Dowdy has more than 30 years in the music business and has worked with several genres of music, while developing young vocalists and bands. His company, Rivercrest Music, started in 2010 in his hometown of Gainesville, Ga. and has grown to provide such production services as song selection, co-writing and arranging recording sessions.
Q: Mark, thanks for doing this interview with us. Having spent a large part of your life being blind, what are some of the challenges blind people faced that people with sight are usually not aware of?
One of the most obvious things would be mobility, getting around in unfamiliar places, but as far as things people might not be aware of that's a great question. One thing people might not think about as much is when you have a young child, keeping them safe when they are in your care. Also, changing diapers and just generally caring for them and keeping them clean, etc.
Q: How did you not let your blindness stop you from being active?
I've always had an intrinsic motivation to want to be involved in things, as I had a curious nature and wanted to explore things. I had a great support system with my parents, family and community, which did not hold me back from doing the things I wanted to try.
Q: Despite your blindness, you had a thriving career and active lifestyle. Tell us about some of your activities.
I was active in Boy Scouts from ages 13-15 and received my Eagle Scout at age 15. This involved many outdoor activities that included white water rafting, hiking/camping, marksmanship (a chapter in the book) and learning about aviation in an actual plane, which is still a great love of mine. Church was always central to our lives, and I participated in my church music program both as a singer and musician. I also went on too many choir trips to even count. Eventually, my music interest led to me becoming a songwriter, studio musician and producer, which included traveling with my work.
Q: What role does faith play in your life?
For me, faith is at the center of who I am. Just like the subtitle of my book says, for me 'believing is seeing.' I have experienced God working in my life so many times and know that my faith has a basis in the reality that He is with me and guiding me. I start most every day after coffee and breakfast, with a prayer and just being with God. Even from an early age, I knew that He loved me and I loved Him.
Q: Tell us about the surgery that became a turning point in your life.
It started for me when I was in my production company, after my first day back at work. This was after the new year when I was having some quiet time before anyone else got there, which was my custom. I felt a prompting in my spirit to pray and tell the Lord, 'I don't know what it is I am supposed to pray, but I feel like I need to say I will be obedient to whatever it is you want me to do.' Long story very short, the Lord was leading us into a season of full-time ministry in the local church. Around the same time, I was saying this prayer, and I was working with a woman whose father was an ophthalmologist. He and I talked about different options, regarding new developments for my eyesight since my childhood. I ended up going to the Emory Eye clinic in Atlanta, and subsequently had two surgeries that produced a dramatic change in my vision.
Q: Describe for us the feeling of what it is like to be able to see after the operation. And were there particularly things or people you really wanted to see after you got your sight?
Amazing would not begin to even describe what it was like. It was overwhelming at first, like sensory overload. I found myself having to take breaks and just close my eyes and allow my brain to 'catch up.' Without giving too much away, the first things I saw in the exam room were my own fingers, holding them up at arm's length, the doctor's prescription pad on the black desk and the light switch on the wall across the room. Going home, I could see cars that I perceived to be a great distance away. All of it was new and overwhelming; I could not wait to take everything in. I couldn't wait to see my wife and children, of course. My daughter was about two years old at the time and everyone talked about her big eyes and long eyelashes. I wanted to see that for myself!
Q: How can your new book help our readers in their lives and faith?
It's my desire that this book will be inspirational, challenging, uplifting, and will offer hope to those people who may feel like they are dealing with something in their lives that is overwhelming. I hope people will take away from the story that anything is possible. And with the strong foundation of faith, no matter what comes, we can learn to trust God with our lives and be obedient to His commands.