Neal E. Boyd, the 2008 winner of America’s Got Talent, died yesterday at the age of 42 in his hometown of Sikeston, Missouri.
According to Coroner Scott Amick, “Neal passed away at his mother’s house last night at about 6:26 p.m.”
“Neal was on a CPAP machine and when EMS got there, they put the monitor on him and confirmed he was deceased,” Amick added, noting that the singer was dealing with “medical issues.”
“He had heart failure, kidney failure, and some liver disease. Just a number of things were wrong with him, and ultimately that’s what led to his demise,” Amick explained.
Boyd, who was raised by his mother, was first introduced to music by his older brother, who brought home a Three Tenors CD. He soon began imitating Luciano Pavarotti's and Plácido Domingo's operatic styles. He eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 2001.
The winner of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Vocal Collegiate Championship in 2000, Boyd made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March 2001. After a stint as a music teacher in his hometown, he began studying opera at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 2002. His talent was rewarded with a role in Michael Ching's World Premier Opera Corps of Discovery, A Musical Journey, which was commissioned by University of Missouri–Columbia.
After performing Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" in the final round of America's Got Talent, he was awarded the top prize, winning $1 million and a gig in Las Vegas. In 2009, he released his debut album My American Dream, which landed at #3 on the Top Classical Albums Chart. In 2011, he ran as a Republican for the Missouri House of Representatives but lost to Steve Hodges, a Democrat, 66 to 34 percent.
Amick reported that due to “the history of his medical condition, there was no reason” to perform an autopsy on Boyd. “Like I said, he had a number of health issues, and a lot of that would be attributed to Neil’s weight.”
Boyd was still recovering from a 2017 car crash in which he passed out at the wheel. He described the accident as “a very, very, very bad wreck,” adding that he had “shattered a lot of bones and shattered my hip, which has left me almost unable to use that leg for now.”
The opera singer was working on a new album that was scheduled for release next year.