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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jul. 21, 2017

CINDY WOOD/independent feature writer

Go ahead and call Craig Wayne Boyd an underdog. He doesn’t mind a bit. In fact, he wears that title with pride.

"The Voice" winner Craig Wayne Boyd will be in concert this Saturday at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Tickets are still available. (photo submitted)

“The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd will be in concert this Saturday at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio. Tickets are still available. (photo submitted)

“That’s been the story of my life,” Boyd said, in the middle of a break from a radio interview and sound check for yet another upcoming performance. “I was born with two collapsed lungs, so when I say I was born an underdog, I literally mean I was an underdog,” he added with a laugh.

Since being named the Season 7 winner of “The Voice,” Boyd has been on a whirlwind tour across the country that will bring him to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center this Saturday for what he said will be a “rocking good time.”

“I’m definitely excited and looking forward to it,” Boyd said, adding, “this will actually be my first show on the road for this year, and me and the band are really excited to just get out there on stage and rock you guys.”

Born in Mesquite, Texas, in the late ‘70s, Boyd grew up in what he called “a very religious” home and he learned early on to not only appreciate the simple things in life, but the gift he had been given.

“My dad was a bluegrass player, so bluegrass and gospel music were really the two sounds I grew up with,” Boyd said. “My dad put a mandolin in my hands at the ripe old age of four, and he was absolutely one of the biggest influences in my life and my career.”

Growing up, Boyd immersed himself in anything involving music and he honed his musical ability in the orchestra and high-school band. “I think I was pretty much involved with anything that included music,” he said.

A few years after graduating high school, Boyd realized that if he wanted to turn his love of music into a career, he needed to go to the land where “dreams come true.” For Boyd, that meant packing up everything he owned and moving across the country to Nashville, Tennessee.

“It was kind of like going to college for me,” Boyd said. “I knew that if I had stayed in Texas, I would have continued doing what I was doing. But I wanted to make it and Nashville is the place where the dreamers go to make their dreams come true.”

It didn’t take long for that to happen.

Soon after his arrival in Nashville, Boyd began making a name for himself, and his talent as a singer-songwriter quickly caught the attention of music industry executives.

Within seven months, Boyd had landed a publishing deal, and he began working on two different records. But as quickly as his career began, it stalled just as fast when the deals fell apart. “I found myself back at the beginning of it all and starting back at square one.”

True to form, and to his Southern upbringing that taught him that nothing comes easy, Boyd went back to work and he soon fell upon an opportunity that would ultimately change his life.

On a long shot and a prayer, the self-described underdog auditioned on NBC’s “The Voice”, a reality singing competition that features some of the nation’s best and brightest vocal powerhouses. During his “blind” audition, in which judges Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, and Adam Levine can only hear a contestant but not see them, Boyd chose to sing “The Whiskey Ain’t Working,” an old-time country favorite from Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart.

Two judges, Shelton and Williams, ultimately turned around during Boyd’s audition, earning him a spot on the show.

Through a roller-coaster ride of emotions and star-studded performances, Boyd’s journey on the show nearly came to an end when he lost not once, but twice in the battle rounds, when singers compete against each other.

Despite the losses, Boyd was far from giving up. “I knew that I had what it took to do music, but you just never know how other people are going to hear you,” Boyd said. “That being said, I honestly had no idea how it would go on the show. There was only one thing in my control and that was to go out and do my best every single time I was on stage.”

After his first loss, Stefani quickly “stole” the singer, giving him another chance the following week.  “Honestly, I was okay with going home at that point because I knew I had done my best,” Boyd said. “That’s really all I could do and if that wasn’t good enough to make it through, then that’s the way the cookie was going to crumble for me. Fortunately, Gwen Stefani saw something special in me.”

When Boyd lost again in his next battle round, he was down, but far from out when he was stolen back by Shelton, earning him a spot in the live rounds.

The success and sales of Boyd’s iTunes performances, coupled with votes from the American public, pushed the singer through week after week and, finally, Boyd found himself competing in the finale.

Boyd did not disappoint and in December 2014, Boyd was declared the Season 7 winner.

“Overwhelming,” Boyd said when asked to describe his experience. “To be honest with you, that’s when the real work began. I went from winning the show to getting on a plane that night and doing four major television shows,” he added. “I went home for Christmas for two days, and was right back at it again.”

The road is tough, and lonely at times, but it’s a feeling that the singer/songwriter wholeheartedly embraces. “Being away from my family is tough, but it really makes you cherish the time that you do get to spend with them,” Boyd said. “But I know I’m doing what I know how to do to make a living for my family.”

That family includes his wife, son, and the recent addition of the couple’s daughter, born on New Year’s Eve 2015, a day that holds special meaning for Boyd. “That’s actually my birthday, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not getting any older because I will no longer have my birthday. It’s her day,” he said with a laugh.

Somewhere, there’s a country song in there.

Tickets for Boyd’s show this Saturday can still be purchased by calling the box office at 419.238.6722 or by purchasing online at www.npacvw.org.

POSTED: 01/20/16 at 8:21 am. FILED UNDER: News