The American dream—it’s an evolving concept that covers anything from the Leave It to Beaver house on 211 Pine Street to a vision of driving the classic 1966 Ford Mustang. Many American dreams never become reality, but on February 22, Alex Boyé, the famous pop singer and member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, watched his dream of becoming an American citizen come true.
Boyé’s desire for American citizenship began years ago, around the time when he was a singer for the English boy band, Awesome, in the 1990s. The band was enormously popular, but Boyé, who was a return missionary, remembered thinking that he really needed to do music that was more “inspirational and uplifting.” The band broke up in 1999, and Boyé sought to find a different direction for his life. Inspiration came twice.
Boyé had been spending a significant amount of time praying to know what he needed to do with his life, and one night in 2000, he received an answer: “I had a dream I was running away from something, and there was someone who pointed me to a place and said, ‘Hide here.’ So I hid underneath some bushes, in a lake, and then I remember . . . the water tasted salty. I woke up the next day just thinking, ‘Salt Lake! That’s where I’m supposed to be.’” A few days after this dream, Boyé received an invitation to attend the Mormon Arts Festival in Utah. Receiving the invitation was all the confirmation he needed, and he quickly packed his bags and moved to Salt Lake City.
A lot has happened to Boyé since his first year in Salt Lake. In 2006, he joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and later he married his wife, Julie, in the Salt Lake Temple. The two have recently become parents.
But Boyé’s dream of becoming an American has taken years to come true: “The immigration stuff was tough, especially after 9/11. I was just hoping and praying a lot--constantly.” This year, Boyé felt ready to take the final step. The test is an intense and grueling examination of English speaking, reading, and writing skills, as well as a test of United States history and government, and Boyé recalled that it was the “toughest, scariest thing” he’d had to do.
All of that time spent studying and being quizzed by his wife paid off: Boyé passed the test with flying colors, and he was invited to be sworn in on February 22 this year. Many of those being sworn in were asked to share their immigration stories. One woman told of how she was held in a Nigerian refugee camp for years, watching all her family die, before she immigrated to the U.S. Boyé remembered feeling amazed, and felt his story could never compare with hers, but when the judge asked him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Boyé couldn’t refuse, despite his sudden nervousness. “Every time I sing the national anthem, there’s just a power that comes with it, a feeling that overcomes me.”
Boyé sang the anthem for the first time as an American citizen and wowed the crowd. (Click here to see a video of his on-the-spot performance.)
A few years before he moved to Salt Lake, Boyé wrote a song called “Calling America.” For him, that song has come to symbolize a dream he’s worked so hard to make a reality. When he first came to Utah 12 years ago, Boyé could have no idea the turns his life would be taking, but he remembered, “When I came out here, I knew this was where I was supposed to be.”
“Calling America” now shares its name with Boyé’s upcoming album, a celebration of American patriotism and a testimonial of his faith in American dreams worth having.