CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO., June 6, 2014 – Known worldwide as “The Voice of Missouri,” Neal E. Boyd presented the keynote address at the Professional Staff Council Breakfast June 4 at Southeast Missouri State University.
Boyd, a Sikeston, Mo., native, discussed his journey from southeast Missouri to international fame after winning NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2008. Boyd spoke of the many professional staff members at Southeast who influenced his life and encouraged him on his path to success. The Recognition Breakfast honors all Southeast professional staff members for their contributions to the University.
Boyd signed to Decca Records/Universal Music in 2009 and released his debut album, “My American Dream,” that same year. He is currently running his own insurance company, Cox and Boyd Insurance Solutions, and recently recorded his second album “My Christmas Wish.”
His career began after he simultaneously earned a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication and political science from Southeast and a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Missouri-Columbia, both in 2001.
After teaching music for a year in his hometown of Sikeston, Mo., Boyd decided to forego his acceptance to Yale University and chose to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Mass., to study opera — which led to a lead role as the slave, “York” in Michael Ching’s World Premier Opera Corps of Discovery, A Musical Journey, commissioned by the University of Missouri.
But Boyd had grown into a practical man, and he shifted his focus to a more practical business career, becoming a successful insurance agent for Aflac. All of that ended, though, when Boyd auditioned for NBC’s #1 national talent show America’s Got Talent. He ended up winning the 2008 competition, earning millions of fans in the process, taking home $1 million and headlining his own show in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand followed by another at the Las Vegas Hilton Theatre where both Elvis Presley and Barry Manilow have performed.
Boyd’s heart has also been motivated by public service as both a legislative aid in the Missouri General Assembly, and recently as a candidate for state representative. But music’s influence on his politics has allowed him to perform on many of the largest political stages in the country, including a solo performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Most notably, in 2000, he sang at the memorial service for former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan who died in a plane crash during his U.S. Senate run against then Senator and later U.S. Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft. In 2005, he sang the National Anthem at the inauguration of Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt. Boyd has performed numerous times for the last seven Missouri Governors, as well as performed for U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush. In February 2010, he performed a private concert in St. Louis, Mo., for President Barack Obama.