MESQUITE, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- This week Texas native Craig Wayne Boyd took the stage of NBC's hit singing competition The Voice with a Gospel anthem that not only highlighted his ability and range, but won over judges and fans while literally and figuratively pointing to the "Old Rugged Cross."
Boyd, a father and divorcee who has faced countless ups and downs in his life and career, delivered before live and television audiences on Monday a gripping melody that testified of suffering and pain turned to glory.
Performance coach and country music star, Blake Shelton, called the moving rendition of the hymn "one of the most passionate, epic vocal performances." Boyd called the hymn's arrangement as a ballad backed by an orchestra "a dream come true."
But it was rapper and producer Pharrell Williams, another of the show's judges, who was most poignant, asking Boyd, "Going through everything that you've gone through to get yourself here, what does it feel like to be at the top of your game and to surrender it to God in front of the whole entire world?"
"I feel so blessed right now, it's mind blowing," Boyd answered.
According to his hometown's Mesquite News, Boyd grew up in the church.
Mark Ellis the assistant pastor of Mesquite's Peace Church in Texas, formerly Peace Tabernacle, where Boyd attended after high school, told the Christian Examiner that as a young person Boyd was actively involved in the church's music ministry and even helped direct the youth's praise band and choir for a time.
"He was never one of those teenagers that hid his faith," Ellis, a minister at Peace Church for 21 years, said. "He was very involved with the youth group at church, very faithful and a good young man."
Noting that unlike other young people who didn't prioritize church, Ellis said Boyd, "wasn't so wrapped up in life outside of church that he didn't have time to get involved."
After hearing Boyd perform The Old Rugged Cross this week Ellis said, "I was very proud of him Monday night. I immediately tweeted how proud of him I was."
Ellis wasn't the only one taking to social media after Boyd's impressive performance Monday night as reports that Travis Tritt, Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zandt and actress Bonnie Hunt all sent tweets lauding Boyd's talent.
Since his starting the show, Boyd said his Twitter and Facebook pages have been filled with support from fans nationwide. The YouTube video of the "Old Rugged Cross" show has had more than 840,000 views since Monday.
Boyd will take the stage Monday during the first part of The Voice finale at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time on NBC. He will be competing against three other finalists