For most people, “No” means “No.” But not Cale Dodds.
When someone tells Dodds “No,” he hears “Not yet.”
It’s easy to see why nothing is off limits or impossible for the Georgia-born singer/songwriter. His tenacity is fueled by conviction and a deeply held belief that all his goals are always within reach. He approaches everything he does with a fierce discipline, an engaging personality, and the patience you acquire when you know what you are waiting for is worth waiting for.
“Someone told me the other day, ‘Man, it’s up to you to fail at this point,’” Dodds said. “I’m like a freshman starting on varsity and I have to earn my spot.”
His own upbringing in the military town of Columbus, Ga, two hours south of Atlanta, was far removed from the music industry. His father was a banker and his mom a nurse who worked weekends.
“Every memory I have of growing up is getting a bucket of Hart’s chicken, and we’d get bait, and get in the boat, and we would stay out there and listen to country music all day,” recalled Dodds. “That’s how I remember falling in love with country music: fishing with my dad and my brother.”
His parents didn’t have any musical ability, but they loved music and it was constantly available for Dodds and his older brother, Chase. His parents took them to every concert they could, but Dodds’ only access to an instrument was a guitar someone had given to his grandfather, a former Army Ranger.
“When we would go to his house my dad would sit and talk and I would run back to his office and beat the hell out of his guitar and imitate whatever sound I could,” said Dodds.
The promise of good grades was enough one Christmas to convince his parents to purchase a guitar and drum set for Dodds and his brother, who were 12 and 13 at the time. “The back bedroom became the band room that day,” said Dodds, who recalled playing Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” “because that’s how you impress the girls in seventh grade.”
What developed was an exuberant singing style and a burning skill with the guitar that eventually landed them in several bands and playing numerous local and regional shows. The first was a middle school dance.
“We played three songs and I remember jumping off stage and thinking ‘We have to do this for the rest of our lives!’” Dodds said. “We were awful, but it was something I just remember as a seminal moment. A door opened that was not going to close.”