Neal Boyd speaks about his new CD and singing with Kenny Rogers

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Neal Boyd of Sikeston, Mo., will be performing June 24 in Sikeston to benefit the Kenny Rogers Children's Center. His debut album will be released June 23. (Kit Doyle)

Kenny Rogers will be joined by Neal Boyd when he returns for a fourth concert on Wednesday in Sikeston, Mo., to benefit a fund that will expand the facilities of the Kenny Rogers Children's Center. Boyd's debut album will be released Tuesday. Boyd said the album release date was perfect timing to return home to Southeast Missouri. A Southeast Missourian reporter spoke with the busy singer recently, and Boyd took the time to answer a few questions.

Q: How are you feeling about performing at home in Sikeston for the first time since your win on "America's Got Talent?"

A: I love it. It's great to get home. I do so much traveling now that it's difficult to get home a lot. When you're on the road it can be difficult to communicate a lot because you're in performances, and your schedule isn't [like] everybody else's schedule. You know everybody back home. To be able to get home and to show the people in Sikeston the progress you've made is exciting.

Q: Are you feeling homesick sometimes?

A: Well, always. I'm always homesick. I mean, I love Southeast Missouri, I love Missouri, I love my home state. You get to represent it all over the country, and all over the world. And I do it. I still miss my friends, I miss family, but they're just as excited. Whenever they can my friends fly out to whatever city I'm in and we catch up, and we talk about the good ol' days when all of this was just a dream. Which is a fun thing to do, you know, like when you're on the back patio in Sikeston, or Cape Girardeau. We're all just reminiscing about how different things are even from a year ago, when the show was just starting.

Q: What is your relationship with Kenny Rogers, and how was the decision made for you to open the benefit concert?

A: It was a discussion with a fellow Jaycee in Sikeston, Tom Nunnelee, and I'm a Jaycee down in Sikeston, we put on the rodeo every year. It came to mind that they needed money for expansion of the center. Before I won the show, Kenny said he was coming back to put on a concert. It was perfect timing. I'm having the success on the show and they approached me before I went, and of course I tried to commit to it immediately. We pushed for it at home and management was behind me, and we started to realize this is a great thing. We have the kickoff of the CD, and at the same time there's this. I think a lot of artists go out there when their CD comes out and they have these huge concerts and huge concert tours. That's not what I wanted to do because that's not who I am. Me and my management company understood it would be more beneficial to my community of Sikeston and to myself in my heart if we just did a concert for free. When they asked me to be a part of the concert, it just blew my mind. From what I understand, Kenny doesn't really let local entertainers open for him anywhere.

Q: You have said before that you like country music because it tells a story. Is opening for Kenny Rogers going to be an especially important and memorable moment in your music career?

A: Kenny's a legend. He's one of the best-selling country artists of all time. I'm a huge country music fan. This is one of those things when I thought to myself, when am I going to be on stage with a country artist, ever? Here comes an opportunity. It's a beautiful genre of music, and opera is similar. When you have this kid who comes from a small town in the Bootheel of Missouri, looking for direction and wisdom as a child, country music does it in English. Opera usually does it in Italian, and I was looking for something to move me. Country music moves me. Opera moves me.

Q: What's it been like to record an album?

A: This CD coming out is better than I ever could have dreamed. I'm excited about the tangible aspect of the actual CD, I fly out to New York tomorrow and see it for the first time.

Q: Is there a song on your debut album has a lot of personal meaning for you?

A: Probably the one that has the most personal meaning to me is Jim Steinman's piece, "Nothing Sacred," because it's one of those songs that just speaks to me. "God Bless the USA" is country, it's Lee Greenwood. I took something that I loved my entire life, put two styles together and it came out great.

Q: Your tour with 2007's "Britain's Got Talent" winner Paul Potts begins July 6 in Dallas. How long will the tour last, and when is the next time you will perform in Southeast Missouri?

A: It's going to last about a month. We'll be on the road about 10 days, but we have some appearances before that. We are going back on "Regis and Kelly" and back on the "Today Show." It's going to be a very busy month and I'm doing everything I can to keep my head above water, but at the same it's a very good opportunity to introduce yourself to your audience. I'm hoping in the fall to do a concert at the River Campus with the university orchestra, or what I'd like to see is me in Cape at Christmas. Hopefully we'll be putting together a Christmas bonus CD. We're in discussions with the university, but we don't know when it will be. I want to sing "O Holy Night" in the biggest way possible, on that new stage.

Q: Since winning America's Got Talent, have you met anyone along the way who has been very inspirational or an idol to you?

A: Tony Bennett was that guy. Meeting Tony Bennett and being a kid is the closest thing to being a part of the '50s and '60s. Elvis is gone, Sinatra is gone, but Tony Bennett had it in his own right, and has had a stellar career. He treated me like a son in New York back in December. He was really good to me. You look at a legend in the face. You are face to face with somebody you've idolized your whole life. You know, I'll never get to meet Pavarotti. But I will meet Domingo soon. Someone like Tony Bennett, who's a legend, and it's just like with Kenny Rogers. You're sitting there thinking, what am I doing here?

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: