America’s Got Talent Season 3 winner, opera singer Neal E. Boyd, died in Sikeston, Miss., on Sunday. He was 42, reports Variety. The Scott County Coroner, Scott Amick, confirmed the death to Variety, as well as the cause: heart failure, kidney failure, and liver disease.
“Neal was on a CPAP machine and when EMS got there, they put the monitor on him and confirmed he was deceased,” the coroner told PEOPLE, adding that “Neal had some medical issues.”
The singer, who at one time was the co-owner of an insurance company Cox & Boyd Insurance Solutions, entered the 2008 competition and won the $1 million prize. He won the hearts and minds of America and judges David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, and Sharon Osbourne after he shared the story of his impoverished upbringing.
“I didn’t realize we were poor until my mama told me I was, but we got through,” he said on the show. “It was my mom who really kept the family together… If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to sing for the first time in first grade,” reported Variety. Of course, the audience was immediately won over after he sang “Nessun Dorma” to their rousing applause.
Along with that prize money, he won a headlining act in Las Vegas. His career after winning included an album, My American Dream, and performances for multiple U.S. presidents, according to TVLine. He also sang Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” at the 2012 Republican National Convention. TVLine also reported that Boyd briefly dabbled in politics, too, running for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives twice. He was defeated both times.
It was just last year that Boyd, along with his mother, was involved in a serious car accident after running off the right side of the road and striking a tree. The singer shared that in addition to focusing on his “slow” recovery, he was writing “uplifting” music for a new album, which was scheduled to be released in 2019, according to PEOPLE. There is no word on what will be done with that album or if any tracks were laid down before his death.
His friend, Pascal (@beautifulbeef), shared to Instagram some sweet words in tribute: “Just got the news about a good friend… Neal E. Boyd @nealeboyd was someone that I wished everyone could’ve had the opportunity to meet. He was a good friend with a love of people.” He went on to say that he made friends with everyone he met and had a love for life that was obvious from every note he sang during one of his many beautifully crafted arias. He will indeed be missed.