Man seeks national recognition in singing contest for truck drivers

Bill Evans, 68, of Bonne Terre sings whenever and wherever he can.

His love for song is evident at truck stops, where he sings well-known tunes and encourages other drivers to join in with him.

Evans, who owns and operates a farm in Callaway County near the Callaway Energy Center, is one of 32 contestants in the first national Overdrive-Red Eye Radio Trucker Talent Search. He, the only Missouri contestant, hopes to bring his baritone sound to the Great American Truck Show in Dallas where the top three finalists will perform in what Carolyn Mason, content marketing director for Overdrive Magazine — a publication for truck drivers, called an “American Idol-type sing off.”

Mason said the talent search helps show another side to truckers many don’t have the chance to see as it humanizes the men and women driving 18-wheelers.

“(Truck drivers) are more than a nameless, faceless person behind the wheel,” Mason said.

The opportunity may not have been plausible for Evans if he didn’t quit smoking 12 years ago. A smoker from 1957 to 2002, Evans said his voice wasn’t anything special, even with glee club experience in high school.

“On average, people would pay me not to sing,” Evans said with a laugh.

Once cigarettes were totally out of his life, Evans’ voice was clearer and brighter singing the hymns at church — and his fellow church members noticed. They wanted to introduce him to the church’s choir director. Evans realized something in him changed.

“I never had a good voice until I gave up cigarettes,” Evans said.

Recently, Evans and his wife, Karen Pinkston, drove to Amarillo, Texas, and stopped at a restaurant. Interested in earning more votes online, Evans randomly started singing “God Bless America” in the crowded, noisy restaurant. He was shortly into the song when the restaurant became “as quiet as a church,” Evans said. After the song’s finale, Evans told the complete strangers to vote for him.

“You should have seen all these teenagers get out their cell phones,” he said.

“God Bless America” is a favorite of Evans’ to sing because he said it’s easy for him to sing and expresses how he feels about the United States. He also admitted being a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music, especially the sounds of “South Pacific,” which entertains Pinkston — Evans’ biggest fan.

“She is the light of my life,” Evans said.

Evans impressed wife of two years on their first date as he sang along to church music.

“I was so amazed at his voice,” Pinkston said, adding that her husband has serenaded her since then.

Pinkston provided Evans endless encouragement from the moment he received an email informing him about the talent search.

“This is something that comes very natural and he’s good at it and I want him to pursue it,” Pinkston said.

Evans is thinking past the Dallas stage at the Great American Truck Show. If he wins the contest, Evans dreams to sing the national anthem at a St. Louis Cardinals or Kansas City Royals game.

If not, Evans said he’s enjoyed the experience.

“…and that’s what counts,” he said.

Vote for Evans here. Voting is limited to one vote per day and ends June 25.

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