Donald Dowdy passes

Donald Dowdy, whose powerful vocals helped fuel the The Bluegrass Brothers and The Dowdy Brothers, passed away Thursday. He was 34 years old.

His death was caused by a heart attack, his brother Steven said, and he had been ill for a few months.

Dowdy, who lived in Vinton, VA, was a left-handed mandolin player who was equally adept on guitar, but his voice was where he left his mark on bluegrass. Inheriting his singing skill from his father, Donald developed a vocal style that was agile and soulful, perfectly suited for the arch traditional sound of his family’s music. Donald’s playful interaction with fans and band members was also a memorable part of his performance.

“His voice, instrumental talent, songwriting and stage performance were some of the greatest that I ever got to work with,” said Kevin Prater, who played with The Bluegrass Brothers in the early part of the last decade. “Most of all, he made me feel like a brother in The Bluegrass Brothers.”

In addition to his musical talents, Donald was a sweet soul, quite unlike the gruff and rowdy persona that the Dowdys presented on stage.

Among the survivors are his father, Victor Dowdy, brother Steven, and uncle Robert, who were also his bandmates; and his son Breyden. Needless to say, they are thoroughly devastated by the sudden loss of their beloved son and brother.

Services are scheduled for 6:00 p.m. this evening at the Simpson Funeral Home on Peters Creek Road in Roanoke. The family will receive friends one hour prior the the service.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.