Country crooner Craig Wayne Boyd snagged the Season Seven trophy on The Voice and has gone on to have “My Baby’s Got A Smile On Her Face” debut at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It is only the second song (following Garth Brooks “More Than A Memory”) to achieve chart success of that magnitude.
Since winning the show, Boyd has just released his debut album Top Shelf which has already gotten heavy buzz. I caught up with Boyd while he was on tour to chat about how his career has changed since winning The Voice, what it’s like having Blake Shelton be a “fairy godfather” of sorts, and why the diversity recently seen on The Voice is crucial.
Michael Cook: Craig, we are so happy to have you heading back to New Jersey! Is it your first time heading to the Garden State?
Craig Wayne: I am thrilled to be coming back myself. It’s actually not my first time in Jersey, I was there on tour as an acoustic opening act with Jamie Johnson in 2011-12. I certainly didn’t open that night, but I am psyched to be coming back to really play it this time. I also have a couple fellow Voice contestants coming out for the show as well, which is definitely exciting also.
For a novice to the Craig Wayne Boyd sound, how would you describe your sound and style?
CW: Well, I am from Texas so there is a twang that I’ll just never get rid of. (laughs). Hopefully, people call my sound “good” right along with that country twang. My sound is eclectic though, based on the influences that I have had throughout the years. I grew up in a very religious home, and my mom would take me to church and my dad was playing bluegrass; so growing up, I had gospel and bluegrass, which definitely has influenced my style. Then in high school and college, I played the saxophone, so there is some of that in there was well. I actually play sax in the new show and really enjoying myself doing it.
The Voice is still such a massive show and has produced some amazing contestants. Has having someone like Blake Shelton support your career been a total game changer for you?
CW: You know, I don’t know that anything with the show has really “changed the game” necessarily. It’s kind of like throwing rocket fuel on your career basically; it shoots it way up into the air. Some people can get lost in that very quickly, and the demise is the fall of that. For me, I realized that that was going to happen very quickly. I focused on building the foundation make sure that the landing was not as hard as it could be. For me, it was great to enjoy the craziness that was, but building that foundation and locking in with the fanbase was important.
Is it surreal to go around the country and see your fans singing your music back to you as you perform it? It truly must be a full circle moment.
CW: It’s amazing. I have a new child in the mix. I have been quasi off so to speak, but when I have gotten on stage, I have been playing music that is brand spanking new, and getting up there and seeing people sing every single word in front of me is just mind blowing.
The Voice has definitely gotten very diversified. From featuring drag performer Nedra Belle (Chris Weaver) to drag vocal trio Stephanie’s Child, the show has definitely showcased some diverse and mind-blowing talent. Do you think that that is important for a show like that to showcase diverse talent?
CW: I think it’s necessary in life actually. I think anytime you get locked into anything where you feel “it’s my way or the highway,” that is when you are going to run into issues. Diversity is key in life in general, but especially on a show like The Voice.” Your fan base is diverse and certain things appeal to all people. That is why one thing I strived to do was to reach out to everyone.
American Idol is back, with mixed reactions to it coming back so soon. Do you think that there is still a place for shows like this on the air?
CW: For me, I had played thousands of honkytonks throughout the country and was already doing it the “old fashioned way.” It was a step out of me to do a reality show. I had to come to grips with the fact that at this point, people’s attention spans are much shorter. That being said, I think it’s an avenue that is still viable, to what extent I don’t know. There are always ways to better the way things are done, but I think it’s definitely a viable way of getting your voice out there. For me, it took me probably two years to reach the amount of people that I ended up reaching in one night.
If you could look back on the guy that walked into The Voice, and now as the winner, give him some advice from that perspective. What would you tell him?
CW: Do what you are going to do. I would not change a thing that has happened so far!