America's Got Talent has just wrapped up another seasonn and Kevin Skinner has emerged victorious this season. Skinner recently held a conference call to discuss his whole experience on the show and here's what he had to say.
Now when you are up there against Barbara, did it pop into your head that you were going to win it or was it a mystery right up to the end?
Kevin Skinner: It was. It was. It was a mystery right up to the end. You know, that is a good way to put it. No she, Barbara has got a phenomenal voice, you know, and I know that she is going to have a great career. And, you know, we all just supported one another. And there is so much talent on the stage, you know, even some of the other acts, I mean it was - it would have been - definitely I would not have wanted been a judge that had to make the final decision. So that is great that America kind of turned it over to them to, you know, kind of get the finish.
Actually speaking of that, what was the maybe one of the other acts that really surprised you or impressed you?
Kevin Skinner: I would kind of - I probably would say Grandma Lee, you know. You know, a lot of people I feel, you know, really liked what she was doing. And, you know, it kind of shocked me that, you know, that it turned out the way it did. And - but I am sure, you know, I got a pretty strong feeling that she is going to have a long career too and have a lot of success.
Now, have you given any thought to what you are going to do with some of the money?
Kevin Skinner: You know, I get that question a lot. I have been asked that a lot, you know, ever since, you know, everything has just come about. And, you know, I done a couple fundraisers in (the that), you know, in my name and I was not there to be able to do them. They put them on and I think one raised maybe $6000. You know, I told them well, you know, as long as you give the proceeds to St. Jude's or something like that, you know, and just help, you know, because you got kids there, you know, and without people that is giving in stuff to them, you know, sometimes it is tough. But, no 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, you know. I mean I have been there and I am sure we have - we all have, so. You know, I just, you know, I kind of like to reach out and help anybody that I can, you know.
And how do you feel about settling into Vegas and getting all that underway.
Kevin Skinner: You know man, I am really looking forward to going out there and performing, you know, because, you know, I am sure - I am hoping by the number of the fans, you know, that I see that I have, I am sure it will be sold out. So, I just going to go out there and give the folks the best performance that I can.
So now you mentioned your daughter is also a good singer. Is there any chance of like dad daughter duets in Vegas or anything like that?
Kevin Skinner: I don't - maybe in the future, you know, to be on down the road that was awful - that would be awful nice. We do kind of, you know, we sing together now and a lot of people tells us, you know, we sound really good. So, you know, that is something that she - I will leave up to her and, you know, let her make her mind up on that. But I would definitely be pleasured to sing with my daughter.
Now can you tell us a little bit maybe about some of the earlier audiences that you sang to, you know, back in the day? I know you have been working on this for a long time so I am sure you sang in some pretty crazy places to try to get, you know, here.
Kevin Skinner: Oh yes. You know, I mean, it has been a long road to, you know, to this point. And I mean I have been through a lot of - I have been singing a lot of different places, you know. And I, you know, I played in Nashville some and I was featured like at the Broken Spoke Café and, you know, I just different places and I always get a lot of positive feedback from anywhere I play, you know. I played there open mike and they feature me like on the weekends. So they really enjoyed my - I am a songwriter and they enjoyed my songs. So, you know, if I can touch a - reach a crowd and that is my goal, you know, to just kind of connect to everybody and sing a song that is something that they can relate to, you know, 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.
Now did you ever sing to your famous chickens? I know everybody is probably wondering if you ever sang while you were, you know, chicken farming or anything like that.
Kevin Skinner: Ah sure, yes. There was plenty of nights, you know, that I would be, you know, maybe have a song come and pop in my head and have an idea. And you know, I mean the time that, you know, anybody knows if you are having a good time at what you like what you are doing and having a good time doing it, the time seems to go by quicker. So yes there was a lot of nights, you know, that I would, you know, be singing in there and some of the guys, other guys would just sing along with me, you know. But it has just been great up to this point, you know, it has been great down this road, you know, that has - and at the end it is, you know, some success.
Do you think you are going to bring that signature baseball cap to Vegas? Do you think you will wear it once in a while? What do you think?
Kevin Skinner: Possibly yes. It will definitely be with me. I keep it with me all the time and couple other hats, you know, and yes it will definitely be with me. You know, I have it on from time to time and I guess I will wait, you know, have to kind of have to wait and see.
Well I think you should keep it. It suits you.
Kevin Skinner: Yes. Well a lot of people tell me that, you know, and because I appeal to them as like - kind of like the next door neighbor, you know. And this - it adds to the connection, you know.
A lot of people were really expecting Barbara to win and they thought you were an unexpected win. Did you feel the same way? Did you expect her to win?
Kevin Skinner: You know, I did not really know going into it. You know, Barbara, she is awesome. She has got a beautiful phenomenal voice. You know, and yes, you know, there was a time - well I mean I just - 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.
What do you think to people calling you the American Susan Boyle?
Kevin Skinner: Well, you know, I do not like to - I kind of hate to, you know, compare myself to anybody... there is a couple reasons. Excuse me. But, you know, all respect given to Susan, you know, she is another person that is just was born with a natural talent that was, you know, she was - had the success that she did, you know. And I feel her timing was perfect, you know, on being found. So that is great.
What is the best piece of advice that the judges have given you?
Kevin Skinner: See. That - there has been so many thing they told me and you could not ask to meet, you know, nicer people. And you know, I know all of them, you know, are pretty well tell you how what they think. And, you know, I appreciate that because, you know, I have always - my dad and my momma always taught me constructive criticism is good criticism. You know, take it and turn it into something positive and try to learn by that. But, you know, the judges, they gave me a lot of good advice and some of them, you know, they have told me not to ever change how I am. And so I am, you know, hopefully I am pretty sure I can kind of keep going down the right path.
Have you heard from anybody famous? Do you have famous fans? Have you heard from anyone?
Kevin Skinner: Well I have got a few, a couple, you know, that - there is a few that I would really rather not name but they, you know, they are pretty proud of me and they would just rather kind of keep their name on the quiet side for right now. But, you know, besides a couple, you know, really famous fans, you know, besides of the judges, you know, I probably - I got a couple, you know.
Have you heard from any country singers giving you advice?
Kevin Skinner: See - well a couple. And then there again, you know, they kind of - best kind of like (because Willy) it was too hardest that, you know, that was what I was talking about your first, or the question before. And they, you know, they are - one of them is a real legend. You know, he has been around and really nice guy. And the other one he has been around quite a long time also. So, you know, that makes me feel good to know that, you know, somebody from, you know, their status would take out the time, you know, want to meet me and talk with me. And so that makes me feel good, a little nervous but makes me feel good.
Can you just talk about the experience of performing on this show? What was it like pressure-filled? What words come to mind?
Kevin Skinner: Oh man. I mean it is - when you are - the results show was like so nerve wracking. I mean, it is so much nerve - your nerves are so much more frayed then than in your performance really. So, you know, 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.
Obviously this is a life changer of an event for you. Can you tell us a little bit about what your life was like before America's Got Talent and before everybody heard you on national TV?
Kevin Skinner: You know, I was just - I fit into that slot man along where a lot of Americans do. You know, just a working class, you know, guy. And just trying to do whatever you takes to get by. And, you know, kind of like everybody else. And I, you know, I kind of feel like I kind of represent that portion of, you know, hard working class people. So you know, I know I got a lot of fans and I appreciate, you know, all - 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.
Now had you ever tried out for any of the other shows like American Idol or anything like that or was this your first shot at trying to get on one of these programs?
Kevin Skinner: This was the first one man. This was the first one. And I, you know, I keep up with America's Got Talent and I watched it like the first, you know, all the first season there and really - it is a great opportunity, you know, to be able to go out there and show America, you know, your - reveal your talent (though).
Could you tell us a little bit about the choice of songs? Obviously going out there with the Garth Brooks number the first time out, you know, really caught people's attention. How did you choose what to sing each week?
Kevin Skinner: Um, well that song there is kind of special to me because I lost my grandmother and she always wanted to hear that song like every time I was at her house she always make - wanted me to eat and play the song. So, you know, that was kind of a song that I, you know, knew real real well and, you know, we (chop) I sing a lot so there is quite a few that I know well. But that one was sort of special to me because, you know, it had a little sentiment - sentimental value too because of my grandma and all and - but no, you know, I just pick - put in several songs, you know, and you have to get like an okay on them and then, you know, we go from there. So, you know, it has been fairly easy picking songs, you know, I thought that the general public would appreciate.
People have been commenting that, you know, he sounds like a Randy Travis or he sounds like a George Strait, and you know, comparing you to a lot of real great artists. Who do you like to emulate or who do you kind of think you sound like or favor?
Kevin Skinner: Man I have always been a big fan of Hank Williams, Jr., you know, and ever since I was growing up and a kid, you know, I always listened to his music and him and Lynyrd Skynyrd, you know, both alike. But, you know, that is not to say I do not - I love all variety of music. I like playing blues. I got the privilege to meet Buddy Guy in Chicago when it just so happened he was in his place there and I got to meet him and talk with him, and so like I play a lot of blues, and just a variety of stuff. But, you know, really when you are playing out, you need to have, you know, it is good to have a variety and that way if you are playing to different audiences, you know, you are prepared to touch with them on that. So, you know, it is good to have a variety.
You mentioned Susan Boyle earlier in the call. I was just wondering what you thought of her performance last night.
Kevin Skinner: Oh man. I mean it - she, I mean, I do not have any words really to explain how great she is. She is very, very good, very, very talented. And her story, you know, kind of in a way reminded me of mine, you know. I was kind of getting a little emotional listening to her talk about, you know, about her life and how it led up to where she, you know, finally, you know, made it through. So yes, she is a phenomenal singer and I think she deserves it, every second of it. And I think she will be really good. I think you will hear a lot of her as long as she is, you know, happy and willing to do it, I think you will hear a lot of good things from her.
I also wondered if you could just comment, how do you think sort of playing in Vegas might change your act at all or will it sort of keep it the same? Do you have any ideas how to - obviously Vegas is sort of a big flashing lights and lot of sounds city, so would you spice it up a little bit or how do you think your act will be different in Vegas if it will be at all?
Kevin Skinner: That is a good question. You know, I am ready to play in there now. So I mean, give me a stage and point me which way, you know, I am ready to go. But I do not - probably I would say I would keep it somewhere, you know, around the same thing, country, because I write a lot of country. You know, I am a songwriter, but I would keep it around, you know, kind of in that same area and not get too crazy, you know.
You mentioned before you wanted to buy something, oh you wanted to look after your family. So I just wondered, is there something you actually want to rush out and buy for them? What is the first thing you want to do?
Kevin Skinner: Well, my niece asked me, you know, if I ever got a record deal, you know, and started getting - doing pretty good if she - if I would buy her a new car. I said well sure, you know. So I mean, there is little things, you know, that I would do for people. And you know, even my friends, you know, if they needed something, you know, that is the way I have always been. But, you know, it is kind of crazy, you know, when you never had, you know, an opportunity to have that kind of, you know, paycheck if you will. I mean it is strange, you know, you don't never really think about what you would actually do with it, you know. 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.
Can you tell me what happens next exactly like when you actually go to Vegas and start rehearsals and working on the act?
Kevin Skinner: Well Ann I am not really for sure 100%. You know, if I was guessing I would say maybe around the first of October, you know, but that is just a guess. So, I am sure - I am sure that it will be out there. You know, somebody will kind of broadcast that, you know, if you will broadcast and kind of let people know, you know, where we will be playing and all the details. So, you know, I am excited about it and I am sure, you know, it might even be a sold out show and really be excited to go out and get started.
And I am just going to ask you the same question a couple of other people have asked because I cannot believe there isn't one thing you would want to buy yourself with your money, with your new found money, not one thing?
Kevin Skinner: I do not - maybe a truck. Oh man, that is the first time I have answered anything. I mean, maybe a vehicle, you know, if I do. I have got a pretty decent vehicle now so, I mean, you know, you - I am not very much of a material person, you know. As long as my family is, you know, taken care of and they are happy, you know, so, I am happy, so.
Oh that is great.
Kevin Skinner: Yes. That is how I am and I like to help, you know, my friends too because I think I believe, you know, in helping, reaching out and helping others.
Be sure to tune in next year to see who takes home the big prize like Kevin Skinner did on America's Got Talent on NBC.