Buffalo’s Ryan Charles will perform his song “New Boot Goofin’” at least one more time on the new NBC TV show American Song Contest.
Charles was eliminated from the show in late March after his preliminary round, but became the first singer to earn what the show calls “redemption” on Monday. Earning redemption means Charles has secured a spot in the semifinal round of the show alongside 21 other singers.
He will perform live on NBC in the semifinal round on April 25 at 7 p.m.
Twitter users declared Buffalo native Ryan Charles the surprise of the night after his performance on the new NBC song competition American Song Contest on March 21. Others said his original song “New Boot Goofin’” should be a No 1. hit.
Even the Washington Post got in on the action, writing in an article after his performance that Charles had the potential song of the summer.
For those who live in Buffalo, however, the musician, whose given name is Ryan Kinzer, was instantly recognizable not only because he grew up here — he graduated from Buffalo High School in 2009 — but also because he filmed the original music video for “New Boot Goofin’” in the boot aisles of ReRide Western Wear in downtown Buffalo.
And the set during Charles’ live performance on NBC on March 21 was made to look just like a boot shop — with a lot more neon green and yellow boots — primarily because the producers of the show had seen his original music video, he said in an interview with the Bulletin.
“They wanted to keep that feeling that I had in the music video being in a boot store,” Charles said.
The song, one of many original songs written by Charles in what he described as the “western country rap” genre, is about the self-confidence boost and enjoyment people get after getting a fresh pair of boots.
Though Charles’ performance on March 21 caught the eye of many viewers, he was eliminated from the competition during the opening round, which is based on the popular European television song contest Eurovision.
The U.S. version features artists from all 50 states, five U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., competing against one another to have their song crowned as the best. The competition began on March 21 with the first of three live qualifying rounds and will eventually be narrowed down to the semifinals and grand finale.
Each state is represented by just one artist, and Charles was selected as Wyoming’s representative.
Charles’ stature in the industry has grown in recent months — he is now represented by the same agent who represents Sheridan native Ian Munsick — and he performed with Munsick at the kickoff concert for the National Finals Rodeo in December 2021.
His music career began nearly eight years ago, with a music video on YouTube of his original song “Tink Tonk.”
Charles made his foray into music on streaming sites in 2020, and his first five-song album debuted in February.
Charles said he was selected as the representative from Wyoming after he was contacted by one of the show’s recruiters on Instagram.
He talked with his management team and conducted a virtual interview with representatives from the show before deciding to participate. He landed on singing the song “New Boot Goofin’” because he thought it captured his, and Wyoming’s personality, well. He also chose it because it’s an unexpected choice, with most people not expecting a hip-hop song when the artist is dressed in cowboy boots and a bolo tie.
After being selected, he said, he was given the basic layout of the set he would be performing on at NBC — like the size of the stage — so he could practice at home before making his way to the set a little more than a week before the live performance.
There, he was able to get in some rehearsal time that he said was crucial because his performance wasn’t like his typical performances that are “just me and my DJ with a lot more freedom.”
“I didn't know exactly how it would be,” Charles said. “I’ve never had dancers on stage before.”
Having other people on stage with him, he said, meant that he had to be a lot more aware of his own movements, and he also had to be aware of the location of each camera surrounding the stage.
Charles said the experience has so far been unique, not only because of his own performance but also because he’s been able to form relationships with the artists from other states who were all staying in the same hotel.
“Like I’ve said before, it didn’t feel like a competition,” he said. “It felt like we were doing a show together.”
More important than the new relationships, however, is the feedback Charles said he has gotten online and on social media from viewers of the show.
He said he was playing catch-up all last week, trying to respond to as many people as he could, because knows it’s a privilege to represent the people back in Wyoming.
“I was born and raised here,” Charles said. “Wyoming is who I am. It was supercool to just be able to represent Wyoming.”
To view his first-round performance, visit www.youtube.com/c/NBC/videos.