Paul Potts Dedicates Finals Performance to Late AGT Winner Neal Boyd: 'Opera Belongs to Everyone'
Opera singer Neal E. Boyd, who won the third season of America’s Got Talent in 2008, died in June 2018 at the age of 42
Paul Potts is making sure a fellow opera singer and America’s Got Talent star is never forgotten.
Following his performance on the America’s Got Talent: The Champions finals, the first-ever Britain’s Got Talent winner reminded viewers about the legacy of Neal E. Boyd, who won the third season of AGT in 2008 and died in June 2018 at the age of 42.
“There’s an America’s Got Talent winner that isn’t here tonight: Neal E. Boyd. Like me, he came here as an underdog, he gave his all, he won, and one thing you could never take away is the fact that he is a champion,” Potts told viewers, adding, “He is a winner.”
Missouri native Boyd, who previously joked to PEOPLE that “my voice is big, like me,” suffered from a number of medical issues, including heart failure, kidney failure and liver disease.
Speaking with PEOPLE about how opera connects all people from around the world, Potts says, “No form of music belongs to anyone. It belongs to everyone. Opera isn’t just for the wealthy and the ‘educated’. It is for everyone.”
Like Boyd, Potts considers himself to be an underdog in Champions.
“I am quite an unassuming person,” Potts tells PEOPLE. “I am, and I don’t think I will ever be one of those performers that ooze confidence and jump up and down. I have remained true to myself throughout. I can be quite shy, and I think this is still evident.”
Though he remains humble, he has now become a top dog: A feature film was made about Potts’ life story, 2013’s One Chance, starring James Cordon as Potts.
Being a part of Champions is a special milestone for Potts.
“I actually do feel like I am already a ‘champion’, and it is very satisfying that I was the first champion of Britain’s Got Talent. It’s always great to be the one that sets the standard,” he says.
“Got Talent is where things began for me, and I will always be grateful to Got Talent for giving me my success and for enabling me to be my complete self,” Potts says of why he chose to participate in the NBC spinoff. “I will never forget or turn my back on the thing that has given me the platform to be who I really am.”
As for fame and newfound fortune, Potts says his life isn’t all about a successful career.
“I get to do what I love for my career, which is a dream come true for anyone. I don’t count success as being about rich and/or famous. Doing what makes you, you is for me what defines success,” he says.
Potts emphasizes, “Doing what makes you feel complete is the ultimate definition of success.”
America’s Got Talent: The Champions airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.