One day Kenadi Dodds would love to play and sing in front of a packed Madison Square Garden audience in New York City.
Also on the dream list is playing to full venues in Nashville, Tennessee, and around the country. That will have to wait a little while, but maybe not that long.
The 15-year-old daughter of Brandi and Chris Dodds of North Logan recently made her debut on America’s Got Talent. The program with her audition aired Tuesday night on NBC, and she is moving on as all four judges gave their approval.
“All of the comments were amazing,” Kenadi said in an interview with The Herald Journal. “I loved how they (judges) could see that I knew what I wanted and that I was willing to work for it and I’m dedicated.”
While Kenadi loves to perform in front of big crowds — she has sung the National Anthem before Utah State men’s basketball games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, sang at the Day’s of ‘47 Rodeo in Salt Lake City and performed at Green Canyon High School — this audition was in front of just the judges, the host and her family due to COVID-19.
“I’m a big crowd person,” Kenadi said. “I love performing for huge crowds, for any crowd, the bigger the better. When I went out on stage and saw just the four judges sitting there, it was kind of funny. I was just really excited to be there. Singing for those judges was amazing.”
The biggest stress she faced was being told the day before that her mother and sisters would not be able to be there for the audition because of the pandemic. They had just driven out to California. Just before the audition, the rest of her family was given the green light to be there.
“I really didn’t care what happened after that; I was just so happy and grateful that they (mother and sisters) could come and enjoy it with me,” Kenadi said. “They are the reason I was there.”
Playing the guitar and singing her own original song titled “One Way Ticket to Tennessee”, the soon-to-be sophomore at Green Canyon High wowed the judges that were made up of Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Eric Stonestreet. Each judge gave high compliments to her.
“This was a huge opportunity and a huge, awesome door that just got opened for me,” Kenadi said. “I’m so blessed to have this opportunity. I’m grateful for any opportunity I get. I’m so excited to share my music with everyone. The more exposure, the more people I can reach. I’ve always wanted to sing for Simon ever since I was little.”
Kenadi was also wearing what has become a big part of her ensemble — almost knee-high cowboy boots. Vergara really liked the boots.
“My grandma and I found those at the Boot Barn and I just snatched those and said they are mine,” Kenadi said. “They are gorgeous. I love them.”
Following her performance that aired Tuesday night, her two younger sisters ran out to hug her. Alexis (9) and Brooklyn (5) got some good television time, as did her parents who were accompanied by the host, Terry Crews.
“That made me so happy,” Kenadi said. “It was so sweet and I really needed hugs. I was so happy that they came out there.”
Music has been a big part of the teenager’s life. She began piano lessons in the third grade and started learning to play the guitar at age nine. The past two years she has been taking vocal lessons.
“My very first live performance was the third grade talent show,” Kenadi said. “I sang a song by Miley Cyrus and played the piano. Then I watched a documentary of Taylor Swift, Journey to Fearless, and how she sold out Madison Square Garden before she was 20. I told my dad that I wanted to do that too. That I was going to sell out the Madison Square Garden before I was 20 too. That’s where it all started.”
She has yet to visit New York City or even Nashville. Those are hopefully in her future.
Country music has been her passion. She listens to Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood to name a few country artists. When she was 12, Kenadi was called onto the stage to perform with the Swon Brothers, which helped solidify her desire to be a country singer
“Keith Urban actually shouted me out on Twitter, which was really crazy,” Kenadi said. “I screamed. ... There is just something about country music. I love how it tells a story and people can relate to it. I just love making people happy.”
Playing the piano and guitar are equally satisfying for the teenager. She uses both in her music.
“The guitar, I can move around more and there is more freedom; it’s easier to carry than around than a piano is,” Kenadi said with a laugh. “I do piano when I can, but I love the piano and doing the softer songs. I love them both and play them equally in my shows if I can.”
Kenadi works with her father in writing all of the songs she now performs. One song she sings was written by her younger sister.
“All of my songs start out as conversations about life,” Kenadi said. “I will come home and talk about something that happened at school that day, and we will start talking about it and just start writing songs. Every song is different. Some songs we will have done in one day. Some songs take weeks and months to do.”
The song she performed in the audition that viewers got to see of course has a story behind it.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville and sell out arenas and record my albums and hopefully win Grammys like all those other country stars,” Kenadi said. “I went to a Shania Twain concert and just loved how she could work the crowd and give such an amazing performance. I really wanted to do that. I’ve always told my parents I want to go to Nashville.
“My dad is a two-time paralympic athlete and got a bronze medal in the Athens 2004 Games. He has taught me to dream big and go for anything. Through hard work you can accomplish anything. That song is what my parents have taught me about dreaming big and working hard and don’t lose yourself along the way.”
All of her immediate family deals with sight problems. Her mother is blind, while her dad can see a little, but is also losing his eyesight. Both of her sisters have vision issues. So far, Kenadi has not had retinitis pigmentosa, like the rest of her family.
Support from her family has been vital, but Kenadi is also thankful for those in the community that have encouraged and been there for her.
“It’s all about the fans,” Kenadi said. “I wouldn’t be here without them. I just want to do everything I can to make them happy and make them want to come back for more. I’m so grateful for their support. It means the world to me that I’ve got such a strong backing in my home town. It means a lot to me, like my family does.”