Musician, songwriter, producer and audio engineer Mark Dowdy has dealt with adversity and disappointment his entire life.
Born legally blind, Dowdy had very limited vision the majority of his life until undergoing a groundbreaking surgery that restored most of his sight in one eye.
He describes his previous vision as “if someone was looking through frosted glass.” However, this disabling condition didn’t keep him from many accomplishments, including a 30-year career in the music industry and a recently released book about his life: “Blind Faith: Believing is Seeing.”
Dowdy’s battle for better vision began when he was only 6 months old. He endured multiple failed procedures to try to improve his eyesight. At age 10, he had his 13th surgery.
Many of the surgeries would lead to improved vision for a few days or weeks, but his vision always returned to the earlier cloudiness. After that 13th operation, he stopped with his parents’ blessing.
“I was a very active child and was curious and wanted to tackle life. I had great support in my family because they didn’t hold me back and let me experience things and explore things. I just wanted to be at home and play with my buddies and do all of the things that a 10-year-old would do.”
Dowdy was one of the first in his area to be mainstreamed in a typical public-school setting. He learned to ride a bike. Later he joined the Boy Scouts, eventually becoming an Eagle Scout at 15, with no special concessions for his vision issues.
“I was never one to do well with being told, ‘You can’t do that, or you shouldn’t do that.’ It would actually encourage me to try it,” Dowdy said.
This sense of independence had its downside though, as Dowdy also had to learn how to rely on others. “Sometimes to learn how to set limits was a good thing for a kid because you would do things as a sight-impaired person that could get you into some trouble. I didn’t know when to quit.”
Throughout Dowdy’s life, the hope/disappointment cycle from those early surgeries manifested in other events though.
He had a hard time keeping up in some classes in high school and was held back a year, though he ended up graduating with his class. When he began his music career, he would get a big break, only to be told that his projects needed more work. The first building he had a recording studio in was flooded, and years later another was condemned due to a structural issue. He persevered as roadblock after roadblock was thrown in his path.
At age 37, Dowdy once again researched advances in vision correction. After finding a new procedure and praying about it with his family, Dowdy decided to try again.
This time, it worked. Though he still doesn’t have 20/20 vision, Dowdy’s vision is clearer now, opening up a new world for him.
Interestingly, he had to relearn many tasks because his new eyesight got in the way of how he was used to doing them.
“I played piano/keyboards and after the surgery, I found out I couldn’t look at the keyboard when I played it because I would mess up,” Dowdy said. “I played golf quite a bit before my surgery. After the surgery my golf game was terrible because I could see the ball but couldn’t connect with it. … I was a lot better golfer when I couldn’t see the ball.”
“Blind Faith” shares his story of pressing on in spite of adversity.
“[Blind Faith] might be inspirational or uplifting for somebody,” Dowdy said. “Not just a blind person or a visually impaired person, but someone who might be going through something too difficult for them to get past. I’ve always prayed, ‘God give me a platform, give me an opportunity to use my story to help other people.’”
“Blind Faith” does just that. Dowdy said, “The subtitle: ‘Believing is Seeing’ means believe as if it were and go for it.”
Dowdy’s most recent musical venture — Worship 360 — is another platform he uses to reach people.
“Worship 360 started out as a team of musical artists that go into areas that need to raise funds, such as a church or parachurch organization, [doing] a night of worship to help them fundraise,” Dowdy said. “Worship 360 now is starting to be more of a musical label for our recording artists, … people who really have a heart for ministry.”
Worship 360 is also producing an audiobook of “Blind Faith.”