'America's Got Talent' champion Kevin Skinner: It was a long road
By Christopher Rocchio, 09/21/2009
Kevin Skinner said it was "a long road" from the Kentucky chicken coops to the America's Got Talent stage, and he thinks that journey helped him identify with home viewers.
"If I can reach a crowd and that is my goal, to just kind of connect to everybody and sing a song that is something that they can relate to, that is real music and that is what people like to hear is real music, you know. And that is what I try to write," Skinner told reporters during a Thursday conference call.
"I fit into that slot man along where a lot of Americans do. You know, just a working class guy and just trying to do whatever it takes to get by. You know, kind of like everybody else. I kind of feel like I kind of represent that portion of hard working class people. So I know I got a lot of fans and my heart goes out to every single one of them man because if wasn't for them, you know, I wouldn't be where I am now."
The singer, guitarist and former chicken farmer from Mayfield, KY wonAmerica's Got Talent's grand prize of $1 million and a headlining Las Vegas show during last Wednesday night's live fourth-season finale broadcast on NBC.
Barbara Padilla, an opera singer from Houston, TX who was widely considered to be the competition's frontrunner, finished in second.
"It was a mystery right up to the end. You know, that is a good way to put it. Barbara has got a phenomenal voice, you know, and I know that she is going to have a great career," Skinner told reporters.
"To be honest with you I really did not know how it was going to turn out. So it come to a big surprise and, you know, and it is kind of shock to me, you know, to hear them call out my name."
Skinner said learning his fait during the America's Got Talent fourth-season results shows was "so nerve wracking," especially since he's unaccustomed to being judged.
"Your nerves are so much more frayed than in your performance really," he explained. "So that is just a feeling that, you know, that I have never experienced before and probably won't never experience again, you know, anything of that magnitude. So man it is just an awesome feeling, you know, with something you just want to hang onto as long as you can."
Skinner will be able to savor his victory for a little while before he travels to Las Vegas to headline America's Got Talent Live, a live version of the NBC reality series at Planet Hollywood Resorts & Casino that will be hosted by Jerry Springer.America's Got Talent Live will begin its 10-week run on October 7 and also feature performances by other popular fourth-season acts.
"I am really looking forward to going out there and performing," he told reporters. "I am hoping by the number of the fans that I see that I have, I am sure it will be sold out. So, I'm just going to go out there and give the folks the best performance that I can."
Since it was such a long road he traveled, Skinner said he was unsure he'd ever make it in the music industry.
"You dream about something for so long, you know, and then you think, 'Well, it might not happen in my lifetime,'" he told reporters.
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"Then you start thinking about your kids... my daughter is a very good singer and I thought, 'Well maybe if it never happens in my lifetime maybe she will get to experience success.'"
Now they might get to experience success together, as Skinner said he'd be happy to sing with his young daughter.
"We sing together now and a lot of people tells us, you know, we sound really good," he said. "So, you know, that is something that I will leave up to her and, you know, let her make her mind up on that."
As for the $1 million he pocketed, Skinner said he also has his sights set on family and anybody else who is in need.
"I mean I definitely want to take care of my family, you know, first and foremost and then, you know, people that are down on their luck," he told reporters.
"I kind of like to reach out and help anybody that I can, you know."
Skinner said it is "crazy" and "strange" to think he has so much money and now has to determine what to do with it.
"You don't never really think about what you would actually do with it," he added. "But just help whoever I can man. Take care of my family and maybe give to some good charities, you know, and something along those lines. That would suit me pretty well."
Skinner was hesitant to say if he planned to purchase anything for himself, but finally found an answer.
"Maybe a truck," he said. "That is the first time I have answered anything. I mean, maybe a vehicle... I have got a pretty decent vehicle now so, I am not very much of a material person, you know. As long as my family is taken care of and they are happy, I am happy."
While Skinner said he's not fond of comparing himself to anybody, he couldn't help but think of the similarities between himself and Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle.
"She is another person that is just was born with a natural talent... And I feel her timing was perfect, you know, on being found," he told reporters. "So that is great."