Laura Dodd, 32, has been singing since she was a child. The Gadsden native has also struggled with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) for the last 20 years. She said battling the sometimes crippling disease has provided much inspiration for her music.
“My life hasn’t always been easy, but whose life is easy,” Dodd said. “There have been times where I suffered through a lot of pain. I’ve had to use a walker or cane to be able to get around. We all have trials and tribulations, but I think what matters is how you come out on the other side.”
Dodd said she continues to struggle with CIDP, but for the last seven years, she’s been able to walk on her own.
“My doctor tells people I’m a walking miracle,” she said.
Along with battling CIDP, Dodd also survived an abusive relationship with her first husband.
“My heart is in domestic violence awareness,” Dodd said. “I try to do whatever I can to help others who may be in a situation like I was in.”
After overcoming those struggles, Dodd said she is “all about positive energy.”
“That is what led me to inspirational country music,” she said. “I want to show that you can overcome. I want to be a role model.”
Dodd received the female vocalist of the year award on Oct. 18 at an awards ceremony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville.
“When they announced my name, I felt this overwhelming surge of excitement,” she said.
Dodd was also nominated for entertainer of the year and inspirational country song of the year for her song “I Am Pretty.”
Throughout her career, Dodd has shared the stage with the likes of George Jones, Travis Tritt, Rascal Flatts and Josh Turner. Her most recent album, “Songbird,” has been very successful and received much praise from critics.
This year’s award marks the second time Dodd has been recognized at the ICM Awards. She was named best new artist in 2010.
Dodd has only lived in the area for a couple of months after marrying Jasper’s Joe Downs IV in late August.
“I have loved being in Jasper,” she said. “This is such a great community. The people are so friendly, and I’ve been welcomed here with open arms.”
Dodd described her relationship with Downs as “colorful and beautiful.”
“I’m looking forward to our future together, and looking forward to becoming more involved in the community here in Jasper and Walker County,” she said.
For more information on Dodd, visit her website at www.lauradodd.com. She said her new album is expected to be released in early 2013.