Big Dreams - Neal E. Boyd & Cape West Rotary
Sikeston native and "America's Got Talent" winner Neal Boyd spoke to the Cape West Rotary Club Thursday at their regular weekly meeting. Boyd won the competition in 2008 and was awarded a $1 million prize, as well as a headliner show in Las Vegas, NV.
After a quick introduction, Boyd spoke to the Rotarians about his experiences growing up poor in Sikeston, MO, in a single parent household with one older brother.
"My brother got in trouble and was assigned a project on classical music," said Boyd. "He brought home a CD of the Three Tenors, and once I heard Luciano Pavarotti's voice, I knew that I wanted to be an opera singer.
"I was always good at imitating singers; I could cover Michael Jackson," said Boyd, as he sang a quick chorus from Jackson's hit, "Billy Jean." "But once I heard Pavarotti, I wasn't sure that I could do that. But I wanted to. I came out of the bathroom, after singing [one of Pavarotti's pieces], and my mom said, 'Honey, I think you can do this.'"
Boyd credited his mother with giving him the freedom to dream big and pursue those dreams, and now finds himself in a similar position where he wants to encourage kids to "dream big."
"Children have big dreams. They may not always come from the best situations- broken homes, poverty- but every kid dreams. They need someone to encourage the pursuit of that dream; to say, 'You can do anything you want, as long as you are willing to not give up and to work very hard to accomplish it,'" said Boyd.
Boyd praised Rotary International for their work around the globe, saying that the impact Rotary makes from the local through the international level are substantial.
The Cape West Rotary group was given a special, patriotic treat, as Boyd sang "God Bless America" for the club.
In addition to public appearances, touring performances and rehearsing, Boyd is pursuing his next milestone.
"I can't go into great detail," Boyd said. "But I can tell you that, as I grew up poor and received the encouragement to achieve my dreams... I want to provide that same support and encouragement for other kids, and I have plans to make that happen."
Boyd's next area performance will be at the Miner Convention Center in Sikeston, MO on Sunday, August 5.