When lifelong Dawson resident Kevin Woody was involved in an accident that took the lives of two of his aunts, he questioned his purpose for living, and even his faith. However, through his love of music and some encouragement from his high school chorus teacher, Woody started to realize a purpose for his survival. And soon, he found himself encouraging others to seek their purpose in life.
Woody, a 2007 graduate of Dawson County High School started showing his musical talents at the age of three. I started singing in church, said Woody, a lifetime member and now youth choir director of Liberty Baptist Church. And, I knew then that music was something that was going to be a big part of my life. Woody continued singing in church and local fairs, including the Mountain Moonshine Festival, until he began middle school.
In the summer of 2003, Woody, his uncle and three aunts were traveling to Vidalia to see his brother play with the DCHS baseball team in the State Final Four Championships. The car was struck head-on by a dump truck, instantly ending one of his aunts lives and paralyzing another, who later passed in 2010, due to congestive heart failure. Woody said he doesnt remember much about the accident, but he left the scene with only minor injuries.
The accident caused Woody to start questioning his faith. I went through every emotion possible. I was angry, and asked God, Why me, why my family?
While attending a church camp in the summer of 2003, Woody said that he began to feel a presence. God was telling me that He gave me my gifts and talents for a reason and He led me there to pursue those purposes.
Soon afterwards, Woody was encouraged to join the DCHS Chamber Singers by director and music teacher Spencer Wright.
Honestly if it hadnt been for Spencer pushing me and making me be a part of the choir, I never would have gone back and pursued a musical teaching career, Woody said.
We did have a conversation about him quitting music and I am so glad that I talked him out of it, said Wright. Its one of the best feelings in the world to teach somebody and they turn around and decide they want to teach.
Woody received his Bachelor of Science degree in 2011 from North Georgia College and immediately started teaching at Wilbanks Middle School in Habersham County.
Mr. Woody has inspired us to reach further than we thought possible, not only by what he says but by what he does, too, said Wilbanks choir student, Kate Holbrook. Seeing him out there making videos, auditioning and singing shows us what we can be.
Perhaps no one in Dawson has benefited more from Woodys teachings than 14-year-old local performer Peytan Porter.
I feel like Kevin encouraged me to come out from behind the curtain and be proud of my musical talents, she said. He inspired me to help merge some of the cliques we have in our schools.
Porter will be entering the ninth grade this year and she said that she sees the peer pressure students face daily but she doesnt let it make her decisions about what she is involved in.
Porter said she is looking forward to working with Woodys inspirer, Spencer Wright, and continue the circle.
That is one of the only reasons that I am excited about going to high school, she said. I know that if I need anyone to fall back on its going to be Spencer, and that is the only thing that is telling me that I am going to be okay.
Woody recently traveled to Atlanta to audition for The Voice, and was chosen as a semi-finalist. I got to spend a week out in Hollywood and I quickly realized that I like it right here at home where it is a small town and people are nice, he said smiling. He is also working on some original music with Mike Gleason, former lead guitarist of Kansas.
Woody said that eventually he would like to find a teaching job in his hometown, where his heart is. Until that time, he stays in touch with Dawson youth through his church and other local events.
I really enjoy working with young people and trying to get them to use their talents for the right reasons, he said.