‘The Voice’ winner wants to ‘bring a good message’

By Raiza Giorgi

When country superstar Randy Travis laid his hand on the shoulder of newcomer Craig Wayne Boyd and told him he had to carry the torch of country music, Boyd said, he nearly fell over.

“I walked off stage at the Grand Ole Opry and learned that Randy had come just to hear me sing. I think I cried with joy,” Boyd said in an exclusive interview with the Santa Ynez Valley Star.

He will perform this month at Standing Sun Wines in Buellton.

The past two years have been a series of unforgettable moments for Boyd, who won Season 7 of NBC’s “The Voice,” a popular singing show that eliminates competitors weekly based on votes from viewers.

“That whole experience was incredible, and as each week went on I just kept doing as best as I could. It got down to the final four, and when they all started walking off stage and I was left, it was unreal,” Boyd said.

Boyd has since been playing to thousands of people in concert arenas around the country, and he will be making a stop on Aug. 12 to play at Standing Sun.

“A friend of mine actually played there and told me about how unique it was, and I just asked that we get a hold of them and play there. I love keeping true to my roots and playing smaller, intimate shows,” Boyd said.

Boyd grew up in the Dallas area and spent his early life learning music from his parents and at his church, where he learned to sing.

“A lot of my musical style comes from my roots that was molded in me from an early age. I like to engage my audience and my songs are about all emotions, and hopefully it makes my listeners think about life and what it holds,” Boyd said.

He added that his music is about being positive, especially in “I’m Still Here,” a song about struggling to find hopes and dreams.

“There is so much negativity going on in the world, it’s nice to use my voice to bring a good message,” he said.

Boyd recalled his struggle trying to find his own voice. He was just about homeless, sleeping on friends’ couches, when he received an email to audition for “The Voice.”

After having limited success with his first album in 2008 he had lost his confidence.

Then he stepped out on stage for the TV show’s blind audition, where the judges don’t face the contestant. Based on what they hear, the judges can hit buzzers to say they want a chance to coach the singer and then turn their chairs to face the contestant.

“Blake (Shelton) and Pharrell (Williams) turned around for me, and it was the best decision to pick Blake because he shares my sense of music style. Working with Blake was incredible, because he helped me get my confidence back. He took what I was second-guessing about my abilities and encouraged me,” Boyd said.

Boyd knew he was getting somewhere when he performed “Walk the Line,” a famous song by Johnny Cash.

“The most daring song I did was the hymn, because I know a lot of people aren’t connected with the church as I was, and I am far from a preacher, but I had to sing it because it was a part of my childhood and shaped my style,” Boyd said.

His “overnight” success from the show has been somewhat overwhelming, Boyd said, but he knew what he was getting into.

“Getting to the status where everyone knows who you are and recognizing you is crazy, especially at 4 a.m. when I walk into a gas station in the middle of nowhere on the road and the attendant knew who I was,” Boyd said.

Boyd tries to keep a tight circle around his personal life but says he is pretty open because he knows his purpose is to share his life and music with everyone.

“I do this because I feel I have to give a positive message to the world, and sharing my struggles through music is the only way I know how,” Boyd said.

Boyd especially loves to perform for military troops and support veterans, but the cause nearest to his heart is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The progressive genetic disease causes lung infections and destroys the ability to breathe over time. One of Boyd’s band mates from his early days in music died from the disease, and Boyd promised himself he would help the cause somehow.

“One of my young fans from the Yallers fan club just passed away last week from cystic fibrosis, and it breaks my heart. I want to help in any way I can,” Boyd said.

For more information about Boyd, log onto www.craigwayneboyd.com or follow his social media accounts. For more information on cystic fibrosis log onto www.cff.org.

To get tickets to his Buellton show, log onto www.standingsunwines.com and click on Music. Tickets start $30.