A Cup Of Coffee With Craig Wayne Boyd (Interview)

By Dave Parsons


Hailing from Texas, he is a multi-instrumentalist who perfected his craft under steeples, toured as a Christian Rock bassist, and moved to Nashville and became a songwriter. After several years, he became an “overnight” sensation when he won Season 7 of THE VOICE.

Hailing from Texas, he is a multi-instrumentalist singer who perfected his craft under steeples. He toured as a Christian Rock bassist, and moved to Nashville and became a songwriter. In 2012, a mutual friend booked him all over the Tri State area outside of Pittsburgh, PA.  I saw him perform at a fundraiser in June, and I called the manager of the Wheeling Jamboree from that show and said he really needed to get this guy on the Jamboree. He made his debut on August 4. The talent was evident and a little over 2 years later he won season 7 of The Voice. 

I sat down with Craig Wayne Boyd at Nashville Coffees on Music Valley Drive in Nashville recently to talk about his career.

Me: Great to see you again and catch up.  What’s the latest thing you got going on…let’s start there.

Craig Wayne Boyd:  I’m working on a new album right now. We have a single out in my home state of Texas called Let It Ride, Let It Roll.  And that has turned into the theme of this album that I’m putting together. And we are gearing up to put out yet another single. And hopefully we’ll be able to send that out to nationwide versus just the state of Texas. 

Me: With Let It Rock, Let It Roll, it seems like I’ve seen it everywhere. I’ve seen different things on social media on it. 

Craig Wayne Boyd: There’s really three avenues of radio to go after. Texas is such a large market that it has its own, you know, its own choices of radio, which is great, especially being grandfathered in growing up there, being born and raised there. 

And then from there, then you go to like the music row level, which is you’re more the smaller towns all over the country, which that appeals to me more than anything. I’ve never been a huge big city guy in the first place. 

You’re aware of that…..that’s where I like to play..so that’s the next step. Then after that, you would go to your big billboard media based stations. But to play in that game is expensive. And you have to have the funding behind you to be able to pull that off. That’s the reason major labels are the ones that mainly play in that market. 

Me: I’ve seen a lot of the social media that you do. I guess that would be the new ‘do it or else you don’t have a career type of thing’?  There are so many ways to get your music out now.  Is that a lot of the way you are going to go after when you get the new album out? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: Yeah, it’s going to be more focused into smaller markets. That’s what I feel is the right thing for me to do. And there’s a lot of reasons behind that. One of them being is that’s where, that’s the people that helped me win The Voice. That is the people that gravitate towards the style of country music that I do. 

Me:  Let’s go back there for a second. I met you about a year before you won The Voice, and you were playing around Pennsylvania to death.  How did you meet our mutual friend name Silver?

Craig Wayne Boyd:  Silver started working with one of the groups of folks that I was working with here in Nashville. And she quickly became not only a person of importance in my life, but a close friend. She had been in the radio market in things previously. And she believed in me. She believed in the talent that I had to give. So she put forth her strongest efforts to get me into areas that she knew. Thus, I was introduced to the West Virginia, Pennsylvania market pretty hardcore. 

Me:  Actually, I met her same night I met you at the steak fry in Bentleyville, PA. There you go. And yeah, I mean, she just expanded out from there. But I never quite figured out how all of that went in because you weren’t even the headliner.  There were Pittsburgh guys that were on that night in front of you. So you were struggling right then. I noticed some of the interviews you said that you were about ready to hang it up before The Voice came along. Was that just a whim you went out and auditioned for it? 

Craig Wayne Boyd:  It was. The project that I was working on at the time was I Ain’t No Quitter, which was an album that at the time, didn’t come out. and then I ended up putting it out on my own after the fact. But the funding that was behind that, and that’s the hard thing of the music industry, is the business side. 

If it was all about the music, then I feel like I would be flourishing all the time because that’s something that’s my passion. and the ability to go out and tug at people’s heartstrings and take them on a journey, that’s my goal and is what I try to achieve every time I’m out on stage. 

But money plays a big role in a lot of this and I was out on radio tour at that time and we had jumped the single up into the, I wanna say it was in the 50s on Billboard and in the top 20s on the Music Row Department, which is a smaller station as I explained. 

And the funding was pulled from us. And I was devastated. And it left me holding onto a project that was finished that I had put my heart and soul into to want to put out to people. 

And the single that was doing well incidentally was called I Ain’t No Quitter. I ended up having to live that song. It’s not that I hadn’t lived it in previous, because otherwise I don’t think I would have made it through at that point. 

But it made me question my goals and why I was doing what I was doing. And that happens to anybody that faces quote unquote failure, not at your own hand. It was circumstances versus something I had done. 

So yeah, that’s why I was second guessing at that time what I was supposed to be doing. But I knew in my heart that this is what I was put on, for the sake of not sounding pious about it, or big headed about it, I feel like that’s why I was put on earth, is to do that. 

And when you have that on the inside, and then the finances don’t match what you’re trying to do, it’s like, OK, well, maybe I need to go be driving a truck. Go drive a truck with dad. I can do that in a heartbeat and run a multimillion dollar company. But that’s not where my heart’s at.

Me:  So let me ask you this one first, so I don’t lose track of it. The song you did for the next to the last round, The Old Rugged Cross, was that calculated?

Craig Wayne Boyd:  It was. That was a natural progression for me because of all the soul searching that I was doing during that time. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal home where singing contemporary music or anything that was not Christian music was forbidden. 

And a lot of those thoughts went into my head. It was something I had ran from.  I was doing a lot of, ‘Okay, God, I know you’re real, but am I not supposed to be doing this?’ 

It was like a light bulb come above my head and it was like, no Craig, you’re not meant to speak and preach to the choir. You’re meant to speak to the masses on a different level and show them me. And that’s why I chose to do the song. 

Because I mean, on a network platform, that song is like, or any religious song, it’s kind of like a risk as far as that goes. Especially at that time, because it hadn’t been done in quite some time. I would dare say on national TV, other than religious programs, that had never been done on any of the singing competitions. 

Me:  My wife was a minister, and we are watching that night and you come out, and the choir comes out behind you and she looked at me and said is he really gonna do this?  You know she was into it big time. But I mean, with your voice, the song was perfect as far as that went. 

I read an article where they flew you to New York the next day to be on the Today Show and then you walked into the label and they were like who are you?

Craig Wayne Boyd:  Yeah, that’s when I came back to Nashville. That is what happened. They had no clue. They were like, you’re signed to who? I was like, it was the contract that I signed with you guys. 

And I don’t know, it was a hairy situation at the time because they had signed me out of LA. This is the label that they put me on from the voice.  It was a large label, and the person that was in charge of that particular branch of the label had not really paid attention to anything that had come across his desk, I guess. I don’t know. 

I can now say that he’s no longer in the music industry. But, he was very high up and powerful at the time. 

Me:  You put one single out, right? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: It felt like all the hard work that I’d put in was again being squashed. It was like, no, who do you think you are? And I was like, no, I don’t think I’m anybody. I was told that you were supposed to be helping me get this done. 

Me: You only got to put out like one single didn’t you? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: The single wasn’t put out to country radio. Yeah, they didn’t service radio for 90 days even though I was out on a radio tour and they’d already debuted at number one. At this point, and this is a highlight for me… I’m tracking down the plaques and everything now, because no one ever gave me the plaques for it, which is weird. At that time, I tied Garth Brooks being the only person to ever debut at number one on the country music charts ever on Billboard. 

And not only was that song number one, but also The Old Rugged Cross went number one, and for the first time ever I Walk the Line. It had never been number one before even with Johnny Cash, and I was able to take it to number one.  That was just from the exposure from the show, and my presentation of it.

Me: And the label botched the whole thing for you…..

Craig Wayne Boyd: Yeah, for the sake of not trying to blame everyone else for my failures, if you will but it was all circumstances that were out of my hands, out of my control. 

Me:  So, you went from there, and brought another album out before you went into the trio you were in.

Craig Wayne Boyd:  There was two albums out between that. There was one called From the InBetween, which were just a collection of songs that I recorded right after The Voice. I was prepping for the album that that label was going to be putting out, and it never saw the light of day. 

So, $80,000 of my own money later, because I ended up getting stuck with the bills when they dropped me. No one paid for it, so I had to pay for it. It was crazy. It was like, I won $100,000, but then $80,000 of that went into an album that I wasn’t supposed to have to pay for. But, to keep my name right. I felt like I had to.

Me: Can you talk a little bit about the trio you were in? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: The trio thing for me was another one of those moments of trying to figure things out. I’d recorded an album with an independent label here in town that again, we went to radio with a single called Stuck in My Head and it was gaining traction and the funding did not end up adding up to where they needed to be. 

And so I parted ways with those guys and it left me thinking again, what am I supposed to do? I needed to find the love of music again because I felt like I had gotten so tied up in the business side of things, that I wanted to do something a little different and get back to my old-school roots of growing up singing in Southern gospel quartets and things like that. 

So, I wanted to find some guys that would complement that and I found Adam and Casey and we put together the group and it was going great until it wasn’t. So we ended up parting ways, and I went back to what I know best and that’s relying on myself. 

Me: With the new album coming out, are you planning on touring for the album? 

Craig Wayne Boyd:  I‘ve got like three or four different versions of the show together. I have the acoustic songwriter version of the show. I have the theater show, which is more like a kind of a mix between the hyped up show and the honky tonk show. Then, the large festival show is even a little bit shorter than the honky tonk show. 

Me: Do you see your music in the future going the same type of country, the same genre you’ve been doing as far as the kind of a little bit of bluesy? 

Craig Wayne Boyd:  Yeah, I took a little different direction on one of the albums that came out with the second label after the voice.  And I never felt like it was me. Never felt like that album, despite the fact I wrote some of the songs on there, but majority of the songs were outside songs from other people. And I tried my best to relate to those songs as I put them out. 

But it never really resonated with me like my own music does. So, that being said, I have to do what I do. And that’s everything from the I Ain’t no Quitter country stuff to the power ballads and the gospel edge of things. And that’s just what comes out natural for me. 

Me: Is there any chance you’re doing a gospel album down the line? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: I’ve toyed with that idea. We did this past year. I teamed up with a friend of mine who’s in the Christian country market. and we put out Ain’t No Grave with Aaron Nichols, and that was great. 

Me: The old Russ Taff song? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: Yeah, I was supposed to do a song with him. I got the call from Michael English’s camp. And it was supposed to be Michael English, Russ Taff, Jason Crabbe, and myself, the four of us. And it got all the way down to the week of going in the studio and then Michael English’s camp said, we’ve decided to put this out as a solo instead. 

I’m like, aww, that was my dream. That’s three of my heroes in the same room as myself. I learned how to sing to Russ Taff and Michael English songs. 

Me: Is that something you’d want to do in the future? The collaboration thing? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: I feel like it’s any collaboration that I’m able to get into, whether it be country music or Christian music or EDM for that matter. I did a song with, called Divine Sorrow, and it was an EDM song, and we did a country version of it, and I have it on my phone, but it’s never went out. 

It was out as a Coca -Cola commercial. Even Coca -Cola picked it up as a commercial, and the song never came out, but it was fun. So yes, any collaborations that I get the opportunity to be a part of, I do. 

Me:  That’s one of the things I’ve always wondered is why Blake doesn’t do an album with all of you guys around his team. 

Craig Wayne Boyd: We were just recently working on something of the sort actually. 

Me: Where would you like to see all of this 10 years from now? 

Craig Wayne Boyd: Where would I like to see it? I would like to be able to say that within the next 10 years that I have five new albums out. I have that many songs already written, much less new stuff that I’m constantly creating. 

So I would like to continue down that path. It’s still a radio world. So we have to play that route to be able to get the exposure. For people to remember who you are, or remember what you’re doing, or even hear what you’re doing. 

Even though we do have social media and things like that, that’s a very small aspect of it still, you find ways to get around the algorithms of getting your stuff out there but I mean I have almost 200,000 followers on Facebook alone and when I post something the algorithm keeps it down to 5,000 people see it, that’s it. 

So, it’s a constant battle of trying to figure that out, but I hope that we can find a way to get through that and be able to get the music out of people and I think I’ll be performing live until I can’t perform live anymore.

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