New Career Begins

As a teenager, Neal E. Boyd would shut his bedroom door, turn on a Three Tenors or Bon Jovi CD, use a flashlight as his spotlight and sing his heart out. His dream of performing in front of cheering crowds recently came true when he won the national television contest "America’s Got Talent."

"This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life," the 32-year-old insurance salesman from Missouri says of his instant fame and $1 million prize from the popular TV show.

Boyd, an opera singer, will headline a concert featuring past winners and contestants of the reality show Friday at the MGM Grand Garden arena.

A hip-hop violin duo, a soul singer and a pianist are among the entertainers who will join Boyd onstage. Ventriloquist and Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator will give a guest performance, as well.

Though he has performed in front of large audiences before, the concert Friday will fulfill a secret wish Boyd has to be a legitimate headliner, moving people with his voice. He plans to perform his version of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" and several other songs he sang during the show’s run.

Since winning the contest Oct. 1, Boyd has fielded several offers, some from Las Vegas, but he’s still deciding which direction he should take his new career.

"It’s still kind of up in the air. There’s always the option of seeing if we can bring opera to Las Vegas," Boyd says. "I know I do want to sing all over the world, but I hope (the concert) really sparks that energy in Las Vegas."

The fate of last year’s winner, Fator, is something to consider, Boyd admits. Fator won the contest and went on to sign a five-year deal believed to be worth $100 million to headline at The Mirage. Fator’s opportunity came from his dynamic talent and ability to perform, characteristics Boyd says he possesses, as well.

The only time Boyd has been to Las Vegas was earlier this year when the show spent a week filming in town. It was an intense week of performing and waiting to find out if he was one of the 113 acts to make it to the top 40. Boyd had little time to explore, but did get to experience losing all concept of time that comes from being in a casino.

"To see the sun rise there was one of the greatest days in my life, and there have been a lot of great days since then," Boyd says.

Other concert performers include Nuttin But Stringz, a hip-hop violin duo comprised of brothers Damien and Tourie Escobar from New York, and Eli Mattson, a 26-year-old pianist-singer from Chicago.

This concert will expose the performers to an international audience, says Debra Rathwell, senior vice president of AEG Live, the touring and production company. Producers had planned to tour the show, Rathwell says, but there wasn’t time to do it properly.

While this show is a one-time-only performance, there are plans to have a touring production after next year’s winner is announced, Rathwell says.

Tickets to "America’s Got Talent Live" can be purchased online at mgmgrand.com or Ticketmaster.com or at the MGM Grand Garden arena box office.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.

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