Neal E. Boyd, opera singer and former winner of America’s Got Talent, died on Sunday. He was 42. According to Fox News, Boyd was found unresponsive in his home in Sikestown by his mother, Esther, and was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m.
How Did Neal E. Boyd die?
Scott Amick, the Scott County Coroner, told Fox News that Boyd died through a multitude of diseases related to his weight; including liver disease, kidney failure, and most notably, heart failure.
E! News revealed that Boyd’s heart had been troubling him, and that he was regularly seeing doctors at the time of his death. The singer was also involved in a serious car accident last year, when he blacked out behind the wheel. Boyd told The Southeast Missourian that the accident left him and his mother with severe injuries.
“It was a very, very, very bad wreck … It’s a very slow progress”, he said, “I shattered a lot of bones, and shattered my hip, which has left me almost unable to use that leg for now. It’s been difficult, because you can’t get up on stage right now, you can’t perform for the audiences and you can’t really do too much recording or traveling.”
Boyd saw the accident, and his subsequent survival, as a motivator for his music. He told that the accident inspired him to record his “uplifting” second album In the Middle of It All. “Any time you’re in a moment of struggle, God has a way of coming in and uplifting you,” he explained. “You have these ‘down moments,’ whether it be health or physical, like it is now, and it just feels like something great is about to happen once I get back on my feet and back in front of the audience again.”
In the Middle of It All was still being recorded at the time of Boyd’s death, and it’s unclear how close it was to completion or whether it will keep its original 2019 release date. Boyd, a lifelong Republican, was also pursuing a career in politics before he died, as he ran for the Missouri House of Representatives in 2011 and was considering doing so again.”You know, that’s up in the air. It was really about the tone of politics at the time”, he told The Southeast Missourian. ‘”But I would love to.”
Boyd is best remembered for being the winner of America’s Got Talent season three in 2008. The former insurance salesman captivated viewers with the story of his impoverished upbringing and his impressive vocal range, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a $1 million prize and a headline show in Las Vegas. Watch the reaction to his win below.
Following his stint on America’s Got Talent, Boyd released the album My American Dream in 2009 and performed for U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He also performed at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, singing “God Bless the USA.”
In 2008, Sikeston declared the month of October “Neal E. Boyd” month. “Neal is another of many Sikeston sons and daughters that are combining their natural talents with hard work and dedication to reach the top of their profession,” said Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall. “We are extremely proud of these young people. I urge Sikeston’s residents to support Neal in his competition and all future endeavors.”
Boyd is survived by his mother Esther. He did not have a wife or any children.
Several close friends and celebrities have come forth on Twitter to pay their respects to Boyd, including former America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan, who called Boyd “a lovely guy with a wonderful voice”, and fellow contestant Jason Eaton. Check out some of their reactions below.