Neal E. Boyd, two other Southeast Missouri musicians perform in Christmas Eve concert

Friday, December 17, 2010
Neal E. Boyd (KIT DOYLE)

Neal E. Boyd is looking forward to sharing the spotlight with two other native Missouri musicians when he returns home to Sikeston, Mo., to perform a special Christmas Eve concert.

He will be accompanied by Maggie Thorn, a 16-year-old country singer from Bloomfield, Mo., who won top honors in the Senior Youth Talent Contest at last year's Mid-South Fair in Memphis, Tenn., and Dub Pierce, a Christian recording artist also native to Southeast Missouri, at the "Community Christmas Eve Extravaganza" sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Sikeston.

Boyd said he has been practicing a duet with Thorn for weeks. He wouldn't reveal the selection but said he hopes it brings concertgoers to tears with inspiration. He also plans to sing "O Holy Night."

Showcasing the talent of other Southeast Missouri artists is an important aspect of Boyd's appearance.

"This is more their show than my show," he said.

Having an opportunity to open for a well-known musician wasn't an option for Boyd when he was trying to break into his music career before winning "America's Got Talent," so he said any time he gets to do a local concert and include opening acts like Thorn and Pierce it's an honor for him.

He gets that same opportunity for himself, he said, referring to a recent opening performance for rocker Bret Michaels in St. Louis.

Boyd has continued to see success in his music career with steady sales of his debut album from 2009, "My American Dream," and has been touring actively throughout the country, performing concerts and opening NFL games with the national anthem or "God Bless America."

In the spring, he sang for President Barack Obama and before the season home opener for the St. Louis Cardinals, which he said was another dream come true. In the past year, he has also become involved with several charity organizations, including Variety-The Children's Charity of St. Louis, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and the American Heart Association. He has been organizing plans for a new album and scheduling performances, as well as speaking engagements, to talk to educators about supporting and motivating students to be successful.

His topic at speaking engagements, he said, normally follows the traditional "follow your dream" theme, which he knows well. The theme will become more practical, he said, as the audience changes to include more educators.

"It's basically about motivating the student body to succeed," he said. "It's about motivating teachers to motivate students and to recognize talent when they see it and foster those talents."

Boyd said if his junior high music teacher hadn't motivated him after hearing him sing, he probably wouldn't have joined choir, and had he not joined the choir none of his success would have happened.

"But someone told me, 'I think you're really good,' and that meant more to me than anything else in the world," he said. "And I kept working every day of my life to hear it again and hear it again, and then you hear the applause, and you just want that all the time, too. So you just work hard to get it. No one's going to give it to you unless you earn it.

"You have to be ready for when your break comes."

Boyd is preparing to work on his second album. He said it will be pop classical, but will include some original songs writers have sent to him. The album may also be more contemporary, he said.

The "Community Christmas Eve Extravaganza" will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 24 at the Miner Convention Center. Admission is free, and no tickets are necessary.

Pertinent address: 2610 E. Malone Ave., Miner, MO, 63801

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