If there’s one thing last year’s winner of NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice,” knows how to do, it’s persevere.
Craig Wayne Boyd — who performs in a free concert at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Power & Light District — came out of the womb blue, with two collapsed lungs. He fought his way back in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
Growing up in a religiously conservative home in Mesquite, Texas, he wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music. He did anyway, hearing Ray Charles, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash at his grandma’s house.
As a solo artist he heard “No” so many times he lost his house. He slept in his car, sold some guitars and hit the road to play every honky tonk bar that would have him.
A country label finally promised him a spot. But when he showed up, they were pulling the desks out of the office.
Then his luck changed. He auditioned for “The Voice” and got chosen by Blake Shelton, one of the show’s four judges/coaches (the others were Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine and Pharrell).
Then Boyd got cut from Shelton’s team during the show’s battle round, only to be saved by Stefani. Then he got cut from Stefani’s team, only to be picked back up by Shelton.
He persevered through all of it, even agreeing to a makeover, before improbably winning the show’s seventh season.
Seems fitting for a guy who has written songs titled “I Am No Quitter,” and “I’m Still Here”:
I skipped a few meals and slept in my car.
When you’re down that low, they don’t care who you are
In this who-do-you-know town.
Oh, but look at me now.
I’m still here, standing strong.
At his lowest point, he did consider giving up. Now, the 36-year-old Texan is glad he didn’t.
Q. What’s life been like after getting to live your dreams?
A. The best word to describe it is a blessing. The love and support shown by fans is overwhelming.
What have you heard from fans, specifically?
I’ve had people say, “I’m on my fourth round of chemo, and listening to your music helps me.” Most recently I had a couple of active-duty Marines who just got back from Afghanistan who were in tears saying: “I wanted to come back for my wife and kids. And I’m still here!”
How do you say thank you to your fans?
I try to meet every person who wants to say hello. I spend 75 minutes playing a show, and then three hours talking to people. My mom instilled that in me at a young age.
Why was it was so hard for you to break through in Nashville?
I’ve never fit anyone else’s mold, and that scares people. And then they have to take a chance.
Didn’t losing two times to other artists on the show — before getting a second and third chance — shake your confidence?
The journey on the show really mirrored my musical career up until that point. I had moved to Nashville with nothing. Down to my last pair of boots. It’s just, “How bad do you want it?” Those are the things that molded me.
Where is “The Voice” trophy now?
Sitting with the outfit I wore (to win the show) in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Whoa. How must that feel?
I am in there with all the greats I have loved. It’s crazy.
Blake Shelton said there “has never been a more deserving person” to win “The Voice,” than you. What’s he like, and how did he help you?
Blake is one of those guys that what you see is what you get. He really pushed me to stick to my guns with song choices.
Did you get to meet his wife, Miranda Lambert?
I did, and she is awesome. She’s a fellow Texan. She showed up at one of the rehearsals and kind of freaked me out. All of a sudden there’s this little blond girl running at me. She said she loved me, and she loved my voice.
So what’s the first thing you bought after you won?
I bought my son, Jaxon, a white drum set.
How old is Jaxon?
He will turn 3 (on Tuesday).
So what’s next for CWB?
We’re actively finishing an album right now. We don’t have a definitive release date, (but) we’re playing a few new songs at our shows.
What can fans expect?
Hopefully it’s an experience. Not just a concert, but … an emotional journey.
Have you been to Kansas City before?
I played Power & Light five years ago (when) someone canceled for Fourth of July.
As the winner of “The Voice,” this show’s going to feel different, huh?
Just a little bit.
Hear “The Voice”
Craig Wayne Boyd, winner of season 7 of NBC’s “The Voice,” performs at 7 p.m. on the Kansas City Live stage the Power & Light District as a part of the free Miller Lite Hot Country Nights series presented by Q104. Families are welcome. Anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Age 21 and up only after 9 p.m.
For more information about Boyd and his music, go to CraigWayneBoyd.com.